Tokyo Olympics 2021: 60 pct of people want games cancelled as COVID-19 cases surge in Japan

Nearly 60 percent of Japanese people want the Tokyo Olympics cancelled as the city struggles to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Japan has an extended state of emergency in Tokyo and several other regions until the end of May in a bid to contain the rise in cases.

The Olympics, which were delayed by a year due to the pandemic, are due to start on July 23. But a poll conducted by conservative newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun between May 7 and 9 found 59 percent of respondents want the Olympics cancelled, as opposed to 39 percent who said they should be held. Twenty-three percent of those who want them held want it to be spectator-free.

Tennis player Serena Williams is still deciding whether she'll compete at all.

"It's just a lot, so I've really been taking it one day at a time to a fault and I definitely need to figure out my next move," she says.

She isn't the only one concerned about the situation in Tokyo - International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach cancelled his own trip to Japan due to the surging cases.

Sports broadcaster Brendan Telfer says the games are "all about the money".

"If there was no money involved, this thing wouldn't see the light of day. But Japan, the government, and Japanese companies have put up $20 billion to stage these games," he told The AM Show on Tuesday.

Asia correspondent Patrick Fok says there's been a "huge" public outcry about the resources and medical personnel that will be allocated to the games when the country is already struggling. This comes as Japan suffered its deadliest day on Friday, recording 148 deaths.

"It's a worse situation in Japan right now than it was 12 months ago when they postponed them," Telfer says.

The NZ Olympic Committee says it is monitoring the situation in Japan, and our Sport Minister Grant Robertson is trusting them to make the right call.

"I am certain that the Olympic Committee would only send its athletes if it was safe to do so," he says. But Telfer says that "is rather a nonsensical idea".