Jun 3, 2021 - Sports

10,000 Tokyo Olympics volunteers quit before games begin next month

A sign that says "Tokyo 2020" outside a colosseum
The New National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on June 3. Photo: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

10,000 volunteers working to organize the Tokyo Olympics next month have quit, Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, told reporters Wednesday, the according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: The games have been under pressure to cancel amid low vaccination rates and a surge of active COVID-19 cases in Japan. Scientists have warned that "canceling the games may be the safest option" and a recent poll by Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper found 83% of voters wanted the games to be postponed or canceled.

Driving the news: Muto told reporters there is "no doubt" that volunteers left because they were worried about contracting the coronavirus, although others cited personal reasons for quitting.

  • There are still roughly 70,000 volunteers assisting with the games, which Muto said would not affect operations.

What they're saying: “I expect the organizing committee to take thorough anti infection measures for volunteers, and they need to respond carefully to volunteers as well as Japanese people in regards to concrete infection prevention measures," chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said, per the Times.

  • "We cannot postpone again," Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said in an interview published Thursday in Japan's Nikkan Sports newspaper.
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