Residents of Hiroshima have called for the cancellation of a visit to Hiroshima by Thomas Bach, the The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president and said his presence there would “disgrace” victims too atomic bombing.
Bach, who has angered many Japanese anger by insisting on pushing on with Tokyo 2020 Games during the coronavirus pandemic, must visit the city’s Peace Memorial Park on Friday, the first day of Olympic Truce adopted by the UN in 1993.
“To hold the Olympics under the current situation where many lives are lost [due to the virus] goes against the spirit of the Games, which are supposed to be a festival of peace, ”said Kunihiko Sakuma, the leader of a support group hibakusha – Survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – according to the Kyodo news agency.
Shuichi Adachi, a former leader of the Hiroshima Bar Association, also opposed the visit in a statement presented to Hiroshima mayor and governor.
“President Bach uses the image of ‘a peaceful world without nuclear weapons’ only to justify the holding of the Olympic Games by force during the pandemic is a blasphemy for the survivors of the atomic bomb,” said Adachi’s statement, written on behalf of 11 anti-Olympians and pacifists. groups.
“Such an action does nothing but harm the global nuclear ban movement.”
An online petition opposing the trip has attracted approx. 75,000 signatures. The petitioners’ sponsors noted the poor timing of Bach’s visit, which came 76 years to the day since the Trinity nuclear test in New Mexico, which led to the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki weeks later.
Bach said he was only focused on marking the first day of the Olympic ceasefire. His visit was an offer of peace “and nothing else”, he said, adding: “This is the message we will send in the city of Hiroshima with peace. This has nothing to do with politics. We will not politicize this visit in any way . ”
Sueichi Kido, Secretary General of Nihon Hidankyo, representing survivors of both atomic bombs, said the organization would not publicly comment on Bach’s visit, but added that he felt he should stay away.
“Thomas Bach has always said that the Olympics will continue no matter what, and it feels like he is using Hiroshima to help his cause,” the Kido Guardian said, emphasizing that he spoke in person. “He says he wants to support world peace, but I do not trust anything he says. These Olympics are about making money for the IOC.
“Hibakusha is an individual and some would welcome him, but I would rather he did not come,” added Kido, who was a child when a U.S. B-29 bomber dropped a plutonium bomb on his hometown of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, and killed 74,000 people.
Bach will meet with Hiroshima’s governor, Hidehiko Yuzaki, and is expected to place a wreath at the Peace Memorial Park, visit the Peace Memorial Museum and see the A-bomb dome, one of the few buildings left after the attack on August 6, 1945.
An estimated 80,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 people were instantly killed; by the end of the year, the number of deaths would rise to 140,000 as survivors suffered injuries or illnesses associated with their exposure to radiation.
John Coates, an IOC vice president, will visit Nagasaki on Friday, Tokyo 2020 organizers said. He will visit the Peace Park and the Peace Memorial Hall, where he will lay a wreath at a cenotaph for the victims.
Coates sparked outrage earlier this year after saying the postponed Tokyo games would “absolutely” continue even though the city was under a state of emergency from Covid-19.
Tokyo is now subject to emergency measures, including a ban on the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants, until August 22, when it struggles to contain a sharp increase in cases. On Thursday, it reported 1,149 new infections, the highest number in nearly six months.
Bach, who arrived in Tokyo last week, insisted that cancellation had never been an option and described the Games as an opportunity for the world to show solidarity during the pandemic.
“We, the IOC, will never give up on athletes, and with the cancellation we would have lost an entire generation of athletes,” he said in an interview with Kyodo. “So cancellation for us was not really an option.”
Bach also plans to visit Sapporo to watch the women’s marathon on August 7 and Fukushima, which hosts softball matches just before the opening ceremony on July 23.
Tokyo was awarded the Games in 2013 after throwing them away as evidence of the country’s March 2011 recovery earthquake and tsunami disaster and resulting triple nuclear degradation in Fukushima.