Rebekkah Nyack is seen in an undated handout photo. Nyack, a basketball fan who is an undergraduate student at Temple University’s Japan campus, says she is worried about the spread of infection if the games go-ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Rebekkah Nyack, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Rebekkah Nyack is seen in an undated handout photo. Nyack, a basketball fan who is an undergraduate student at Temple University’s Japan campus, says she is worried about the spread of infection if the games go-ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Rebekkah Nyack, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Canadians in Japan say the Olympics should be cancelled

Lack of cheering fans, full stadiums and a festive atmosphere could cost event its spirit, some say

Canadian Jordan Dallaire-Gagné just wanted to be part of the largest sporting event in the world. Working or volunteering at the Tokyo Olympics was top of mind when the Montrealer moved to Japan a little over a year ago.

But Dallaire-Gagné said the Games should be cancelled as parts of the world face surging waves of COVID-19.

Dallaire-Gagné and several other Canadians living in Japan said sports are about camaraderie, cheering fans, full stadiums and a festive atmosphere that spills into the streets. Canadians in Japan were looking forward to cheering Team Canada in Tokyo.

The idea of mostly empty stadiums, devoid of foreign spectators, feels wrong, the Canadians said, adding the focus of the governments, not just in Japan but from countries sending their athletes, should simply be to get through COVID-19.

“I mean, it’s just the whole idea of participating,” Dallaire-Gagné said in an interview from Tokyo. “This is almost a once-in-a-lifetime event. I would have kept my ticket. I would say I was there.”

Calls to cancel the Olympics are growing. Anywhere from 60 to 80 per cent of Japanese residents in polls say it is their wish that the Games be cancelled.

The Olympics open on July 23 followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24.

Dallaire-Gagné said it’s hard to look at the part of the city that is supposed to house the athletes because it seems to lack a sense of light and life.

“It’s just like basically a part of town that could be used as a zombie apocalypse movie set,” he said. “They’re just there. It’s just so sad.”

A 6,000-member Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association has also called for the Olympics to be cancelled in a letter sent last week to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa, and Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the organizing committee.

The Olympics and Paralympics will involve 15,000 athletes entering Japan, which has had its borders virtually sealed for more than a year.

Rebekkah Nyack, an undergraduate student at Temple University’s Japan campus, said she is worried about the spread of infection if the games go-ahead.

“Tokyo is such a dense city with so many people,” said the Canmore, Alta. resident, who is studying international affairs.

“If there’s a large outbreak there’s a higher chance of me getting (COVID-19) and people in my community getting it.”

Between one and two per cent of Japanese residents are fully vaccinated, and it’s unlikely that even the elderly population will be fully vaccinated before the Olympics end on Aug. 8.

Fans from abroad have already been banned, and Olympic organizers are expected to announce next month if local fans can attend in limited numbers — or not at all.

Nyack said that even though the Games are a “fantastic” thing to happen every four years, it is far more important right now to keep people safe.

The idea of largely empty stadiums is disheartening, she said.

“The sense of community the sports bring — it’s an important part right?” she asked.

“So, if you don’t have that then what’s the point?”

Jared Parales said if the Olympics are held, tickets are affordable, social distancing measures are comfortable and all precautions are taken, he may go and watch the Canadian volleyball team.

The Calgarian, who lives in Tokyo, said he’s seen some sports events go ahead with cardboard figures filling seats, but added it’s not the same as having screaming and cheering fans.

Ideally, he said he wants to see the Games cancelled.

“For Olympics, a lot of people love it,” he said.

“And I love sports. I love the Olympics. I want to see it happen, but I want to see it happen right and not right now.”

— Hina Alam, The Canadian Press, with files from The Associated Press

RELATED: Head of Tokyo Olympics again says games will not be cancelled

RELATED: MPs demand relocation of 2022 Olympics due to China’s abuse of Uighurs

JapanOlympics

Just Posted

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also… Continue reading

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read