Poll: Hoping for economic boost, most Japan firms want Tokyo Olympics to go ahead

Two-thirds of firms expect a limited economic boost if the Games were held. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Most Japanese firms want the Tokyo Olympics to go ahead next summer with restrictions on spectator numbers, saying while any boost to the economy would be limited, it would be better than nothing, a Reuters survey showed.

The results contrast sharply with public opinion polls earlier this year. One poll conducted by broadcaster NHK in July showed two-thirds of Japanese people believed the Games should either be cancelled or postponed further.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who sees tourism as key to reviving the economy, has vowed to do all it takes to ensure the coronavirus pandemic-delayed Olympics Games take place in 2021.

Sources have also told Reuters he has shown more flexibility about having them simplified than his predecessor Shinzo Abe, who was wedded to having the event in "full form".

The survey of large and medium non-financial companies, conducted between Oct 26 and Nov 4, showed 68 per cent believe the Games should go ahead, and if they do go ahead, three quarters thought spectator numbers should be restricted.

"In terms of the Japanese economy, it would be better to proceed than not to proceed," wrote a manager at a metals firm.

After falling to its deepest post-war slump in April-June, Japan's economy has seen signs of recovery, although not one strong enough to put it on a pre-pandemic footing in the near-term.

Two-thirds of firms expect a limited economic boost if the Games were held, with many noting the number of foreign visitors would be far fewer than in non-pandemic times. Eleven per cent believed the economy would get a big lift.

But close to a third said the Games should be cancelled, noting that in many countries, the virus is still raging.

"As a Japanese person, I want the Games to go ahead, but unless the pandemic has subsided within the year, I think there is no alternative but to cancel. There's no need to invite danger by holding them," wrote a manager at a transportation firm.

The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research each month on different topics, canvassed 485 firms, of which some 220 responded. Responses are given on condition of anonymity.

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