Olympics cancellation likely to cost Japan $17 bil.

TOKYO — Cancelling the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer would cost Japan around 1.81 trillion yen ($17 billion), a research institute estimate showed May 25, as Japan scrambles to curb coronavirus infections with the major sporting event now just two months away.

The Nomura Research Institute warns of even a bigger economic loss if a fresh state of emergency is declared to cope with another spike in coronavirus cases after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have been held as scheduled.

“Even if the games are canceled, the economic loss will be smaller than (the damage done by) a state of emergency,” Takahide Kiuchi, executive economist at the Nomura Research Institute, said.

If the Tokyo Games from late July are held without spectators, this will result in 1.66 trillion yen in economic benefits, some 146.8 billion yen less than if they are held with domestic spectators, according to the institute.

Media polls have pointed to a worried Japanese public over the pandemic. Nearly 60 percent of respondents in a Kyodo News survey in mid-May said the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should be canceled.

Parts of Japan, especially populous areas such as Tokyo and Osaka hit by a resurgence of coronavirus cases, have been placed under a fresh state of emergency. The country’s vaccine rollout has been gaining momentum but still lags behind other advanced countries like the United States and Britain where signs of some normalcy have emerged.

The United States on May 24 advised its citizens not to visit Japan due to the COVID-19 crisis, raising its travel alert to the highest level of 4, while Japanese government officials played down the impact.

Japan’s state of emergency, aimed at easing the strain on hospitals treating patients in the affected areas, does not involve hard lockdown measures similar to those in Britain or other countries.

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