Anti-Olympic Protests Leave Tokyo Games In Doubt

There is rising unrest in Japan, leaving one of golf's biggest showpieces in doubt.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is rising unrest in Japan, leaving one of golf's biggest showpieces in doubt.

Anti-Olympic Protests Leave Tokyo Games In Doubt

There is rising unrest in Japan as growing protests have seen Japanese citizens demand the Games be called off for a second time.

The 2020 Summer Olympics are due to take place in Tokyo on the rescheduled date of July 23rd 2021, but civil unrest and a rise in Coronavirus cases in Japan are leaving the Games in doubt.

To date, Japan has only fully vaccinated about 1% of its population and there is serious concern that letting the Games take place will lead to a super-spreader event - with Japanese media reporting 79,000 people would be flying in for the event this summer.

Anti-Olympic Protests Leave Tokyo Games In Doubt

Protester speaks during an anti Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Rally in Ginza district.
Around 30 to 40 protesters took to the streets calling for the cancelation of the Olympic Games this summer. (Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Local polls have revealed the majority of the Japanese population no longer support the hosting of the Games, and a doctor's union has joined the call for the cancellation of the event.

The unrest leaves one of golf's biggest showpieces of the season under threat.

Over recent weeks and months, golf's biggest stars have been declaring their interest in still attending the event, with most avoiding the topic on the ongoing pandemic when discussing it.

Rory McIlroy recently confirmed he would be attending the Tokyo Olympics in what would be his debut at the Olympic Games after he decided not to play in 2016.

He acknowledged that the Tokyo Games might not feel like they did at Rio 2016, “It’s certainly not going to be the authentic Olympic experience that you would normally get, but it’s the times that we’re living in, I guess."

Possibly the most influential voice for European players this year, Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, emphasised the importance of golfers attending the Olympic event.

Ryder Cup Could Be Close To Normal

“Yeah, look, it [the Olympics] is very important when you’re looking from a Ryder Cup perspective,” the 2008 PGA Champion said.

“You’re looking at players who play well in the majors, players who play well this week, players that play well when it’s on the line.

“The Olympics creates that pressure and tension. Winning an Olympic medal is a big deal, I’ve seen that. I’ve traveled the world since the last Olympics, and even as a three-time major winner, Ryder Cup captain, I could be introduced in some countries and they might say three-time major winner, I get a clap."

“They might say Ryder Cup captain, I might get a cheer. But when you say an Olympian they can recognise that that’s something they can judge a merit off of what you did in your career.”

It suggests that - if the event goes ahead - Harrington will have a keen eye on how the European's favour in Tokyo.

Lee Westwood, currently set to qualify automatically to represent Europe for an 11th time, officially ruled himself out of the Tokyo Games due to an overly congested schedule, among other things. Much like his colleagues, he didn't mention the ongoing pandemic as an issue.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott also announced earlier in the year that they would be skipping the event that suffered similar setbacks at the Rio Games in 2016 as a result of the Zika virus.

Rose celebrates his 2016 Olympic Gold medal (Getty Images)

Golf only retured to the Olympics in 2016 after nearly a century away from the Games when Justin Rose took home gold for Team GB in 2016.

Despite calls to turn it into a matchplay event, golf at the Olympics remains a conventional four-day strokeplay event.

Anti-Olympic Protests Leave Tokyo Games In Doubt