- Billionaire SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has joined calls to cancel the Tokyo Olympics.
- “Currently more than 80% of people want the Olympics to be postponed or canceled. On what authority is it being forced through?” Son wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
- Tokyo and other parts of Japan are still under a state of emergency amid a new COVID-19 wave.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Billionaire SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has joined growing calls to cancel the Tokyo Olympics as Japan struggles with a new coronavirus surge and many parts of the country remain under a state of emergency.
“Currently more than 80% of people want the Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Who and on what authority is it being forced through?” Son wrote on Twitter in Japanese on Saturday.
Son, who founded SoftBank in 1981 and has invested millions in financial, healthcare, and tech companies like Uber, ByteDance, and SoFi through the conglomerate, is Japan’s second-richest person with a net worth of $30.3 billion.
The day after his first tweet, the billionaire investor wrote: “There’s talk of a huge penalty (if the Games are canceled), but if 100,000 people from 200 countries descend on vaccine-laggard Japan and the mutant variant spreads, I think we could lose a lot more: Lives, the burden of subsidies if a state of emergency is called, a fall in gross domestic product, and the public’s patience.”
It’s still unclear just how many people will be at the Tokyo Olympics, where about 11,000 athletes are expected to compete. In March, the Japanese government decided to ban foreign spectators from attending the Games due to the emergence of new COVID-19 variants. As for local fans, the organizing committee has not announced how many spectators will be allowed to attend the Games, though it previously said it was considering capping capacity at 50%. Son did not immediately reply to Insider’s request for clarification on the 100,000 number mentioned in his tweet.
Son’s remarks came after International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates said at an online news conference on Friday that the Games would “absolutely” go ahead even if Japan were under a state of emergency.
The SoftBank CEO’s voice joins growing calls to halt the Olympics as Japan struggles to keep its coronavirus outbreak under control. A poll last week found that more than 80% of Japanese residents want the Olympics to be canceled. In the same week, a group of 6,000 Japanese doctors wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga saying that Japan’s healthcare system could be overwhelmed if the Games are held as scheduled. Many have taken to the streets to protest the Games going ahead.
The Games, which were already postponed from their original dates in 2020, are set to kick off on July 23. Meanwhile, the government said on Sunday that it’s considering extending the states of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, and seven other prefectures beyond their original May 31 end date.
Japan recorded 5,041 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and only 2% of its population is fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.