During a scheduled news conference call held by the IOC on Wednesday, an anti-Olympics protester interrupted to voice some of the concerns held by parties opposing the Olympics.
Posing as a Yahoo news reporter, the protester interjected himself into the virtual news conference when the floor opened up for questions.
IOC president Thomas Bach, who typically fielded questions during these portions of the conferences, was absent on Wednesday. Instead, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams took the floor, and with the assistance of his media team, was able to shut down the protester swiftly.
Among the protesters remarks were expletives, and other broad statements condemning the Games. The man spoke on behalf of the anti-Olympics group called “NOlympics LA,” who later took credit for the disruption on social media.
Before being cut off by the IOC media team, he chanted “No Olympics Anywhere” and “We don’t want the Olympics anywhere. No Olympics in L.A., no Olympics in Tokyo.” As seen in the video conference, the protester could be seen donning a black scarf which read “No Olympics in Tokyo 2020.”
The protester’s stunt disrupted the initial purpose of the meeting, which was to update the public on the status of the Games and reassure both athletes and supporters of the Olympics that while the IOC is listening to concerns regarding the Games, they will not be “guided by public opinion.”
Adams staunchly asserted the IOC’s position that the Olympics “can go ahead and will go ahead,” and stated that both the Committee and local organizers are still “fully concentrated on delivering the Games.”
With COVID cases rising in Japan and an extension to the recent state-of-emergency order, public opinion polls in Japan have demonstrated the growing distaste for the Tokyo Olympics. It is reported that anywhere from 60% to 80% of Japanese citizens feel that the games should be rescheduled, or at least postponed.
However, even as the number of cases climb in Japan, four recent “test” events for the Olympics show the preparedness of local organizers and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee for the games. Between the four test events, more than 700 athletes from around the globe and 6,000 related staff participated, including 225 divers attending the FINA Diving World Cup hailing from 46 different countries.
Only one positive test was identified before any of the events began, which was attributed to an official for the FINA Diving World Cup. The case was isolated, close contacts were identified, and no further spreading came from the incident. No positive tests surfaced during the competitions themselves.
Recently, Japanese Olympian and Leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee addressed concerns held by anti-Olympic groups in a series of tweets. Ikee sympathized with the public, stating that she too wishes to “emerge from this darkness as quickly as possible.”
She went on to clarify that putting the “burden” of continuing on or opting to cancel the Olympics on athletes is not entirely fair. Ikee lives every day with her chronic illness, and claims that “whether the games are held or not… (she lives) every day with the anxiety of possibly (being infected with the coronavirus and) becoming seriously ill.” Thus, Ikee concludes that she will take whatever decision is made about the Games in stride by competing if they do happen and continuing to train and prepare for the next Olympics should the Games be cancelled.