Japan Olympic Committee official dies after jumping in front of train

Senior Japanese Olympic Committee official dies after jumping in front of subway train as Tokyo struggles to decide whether to go ahead with next month’s Games

  • Yasushi Moriya was seen jumping in front of a train at a Tokyo subway station 
  • Police on Monday are investigating 52-year-old’s death as an apparent suicide
  • It comes as Tokyo struggles with controversy over holding the Olympic Games
  • Public opinion is against the event, which comes amid a rise in coronavirus cases

A senior official from the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) has died after jumping in front of a subway train on Monday morning. 

Private broadcaster Nippon Television reported Yasushi Moriya’s death, citing Tokyo metropolitan police sources. 

The 52-year-old was seen jumping onto the tracks at Nakanobu Station in the south of the capital at 09:30am local time. 

Moriya was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

Police are investigating the circumstances of the incident, which they are viewing as an apparent suicide, the television network said.

Nikkei reported that Moriya was an accounting manager and that no suicide note was found on his body. 

A representative of the JOC told Reuters news agency it was gathering information on the incident.           

Moriya’s death comes as pressure mounts for Tokyo to cancel next month’s Games amid concerns it will turn into a super-spreader event.

A senior official from the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) has died after jumping in front of a subway train on Monday morning. Private broadcaster Nippon Television reported Yasushi Moriya’s death, citing Tokyo metropolitan police sources

Moriya’s death comes as pressure mounts for Tokyo to cancel next month’s Games amid concerns it will turn into a super-spreader event

Worries about variants of Covid and a slow vaccination drive have prompted calls from doctors, some high-profile business executives and hundreds of thousands of citizens to cancel the Olympic Games, due to run from July 23 until August 8. 

Public sentiment is firmly against the Games, with a poll from mid-May showing that more than 80 per cent of Japanese people are opposed to holding the event this year. 

However, officials, including Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, seem determined that the Games – already postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic – will go ahead as planned. 

Suga has dismissed accusations that the government is prioritising the Olympics over public health, insisting that he has ‘never put the Olympics first’.

Japan has maintained a low coronavirus infection and death rate for the majority of the pandemic, but cases began rising late last year, prompting the government to impose more restrictions.  

On May 28, the government extended a Covid-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other regions for another three weeks. 

The restrictions are due to remain in place until 19 June, five weeks before the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

After the announcement, organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto hinted that all fans may be barred from venues, saying they will make a decision once the state of emergency is lifted.

‘We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess,’ Hashimoto said at her weekly briefing.

At present, international spectators have been banned but domestic fans are permitted to attend. 

Public sentiment is firmly against the Games, with a poll from mid-May showing that more than 80 per cent of Japanese people are opposed to holding the event this year. Pictured: A protest against the Games in Tokyo on Sunday

Dozens of Japanese local leaders have responded to a wave of anti-Olympics street protests by refusing to host athletes in their cities. 

At least 40 out of 500 towns registered to accommodate international competitors have now declined to do so in order to avoid putting extra pressure on hospitals, according to local reports. 

On Friday, an executive member of the JOC broke ranks, calling on athletes to oppose attempts to stage the Games as planned. 

Kaori Yamaguchi, also a former Olympic medallist, said the country had been ‘concerned’ and was ‘damned’ if it cancelled the Games and ‘damned’ if it pushed ahead with them.  

‘The Games have already lost meaning and are being held just for the sake of them,’ Yamaguchi wrote in an opinion article.

‘I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel. It would require too much energy to make and follow through with such a decision. 

‘We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not.’

A survey published today in the Yomiuri newspaper suggests that public opinion may be softening. 

It reported that 48 per cent of the population is against holding the Games, while 26 per cent feel they should be held without spectators. 

A further 24 per cent said the event should go ahead with a limited number of fans allowed in.   

The Games also drew criticism after the head of the JOC Yoshiro Mori was forced to resign in February after remarking that women talk too much in meetings. 

The following month, Hiroshi Sasaki, creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies, had to resign after suggesting that a female celebrity could be dressed as a pig to become an ‘Olympig’ mascot for the Games. 

The celebrity in question was top comedian Naomi Watanabe, who is also known for her body positivity advocacy.

She is known to Western audiences from her appearance in popular Netflix series Queer Eye. 

  

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The Games also drew criticism after the head of the JOC Yoshiro Mori (pictured) was forced to resign in February after remarking that women talk too much in meetings [File photo]

Hiroshi Sasaki, creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies, had to resign after suggesting that popular comedian Naomi Watanabe (right) could be dressed as a pig to become an ‘Olympig’ mascot for the Games. Pictured: Watanabe with model Winnie Harlow in 2019

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