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

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

Kidspace, which took over the YMCA-YWCA childcare centre at Eagle Creek Village, plans to reopen the Y’s fitness centre as the Eagle Creek Athletic Club in September. (Photo courtesy of Kidpsace)
Former Y fitness centre in View Royal aims to reopen in September

Kidspace taking over both the gym and the childcare facility at Eagle Creek Village

Cheyenne, six, Savannah, three, and Jeremiah Sinclair, 8, were out on walk with their mother on June 4 when they discovered the first of several hundred fish that died after bleach leaked into Reay Creek. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Spill in Sidney’s Reay Creek turns into ecological lesson for local children

Federal-provincial investigation ongoing into what appears to be a bleach spill

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read