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Should the Tokyo Olympics go ahead? Japanese Big Issue vendors have their say

As the Tokyo Olympics get under way, we find out what vendors of The Big Issue in Japan think about the controversial event starting in their city.

The delayed Tokyo Olympics starts this week. However, controversy still surrounds the games going ahead, as Japan continues to battle rising infections in the country.

As athletes and support staff arrive in their thousands, we found out the feeling on the ground from people who have a different perspective on the city.

Ito Haruo, MS and Nakajima Yoshiyuki are three vendors of The Big Issue Japan. Like The Big Issue here in the UK, it is a social business that helps homeless and marginalised people earn an income.

Spending a lot of their time on the streets of Tokyo gives them a unique insight, so what do they think about the Olympics going ahead, and what sports do they enjoy themselves?

‘I can see the Olympic cauldron from my sleeping place’

MS, 53
Pitch: Western Tokyo

From my perspective, to prevent infection I don’t think it’s a good idea to hold the Olympics. I can see the Olympic cauldron from my sleeping place, and in the daytime foreign media people with passes making their way to the site. I think saying there is a ‘bubble’ is a stretch.

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Although recently I haven’t been playing any sports, I used to play soccer. So now I’m into watching the games of the national team. I remember I was a member of the soccer club in my junior high school days. I hardly attended practice, but the team had me play to make up the numbers. I didn’t get any goals, but I think I was a good passer.

‘I’ve heard that foreign broadcasters will take trillions of yen in penalties’

Ito Haruo, 54
Pitch: Hikarigaoka, Tokyo

I want the Olympics to be held. Otherwise, I’ve heard that foreign broadcasters will take trillions of yen in penalties, and I think that’s a waste of money.

For me, the Olympics won’t affect my sales and livelihood because there are no places related to the event around my pitch and no visitor will come here.

I like to watch professional wrestling and baseball, as well as international wrestling such as WWE. Pro wrestling is cool and exciting when the moves are done. I play baseball, so I understand the fun of it.

When I was a child living in Akita, my hometown, I used to do sumo. I was once second place in a tournament. I still can do it wherever there is a ring.

‘It’s a shame that no spectators will be able to come from overseas’

Nakajima Yoshiyuki, 43
Pitch: Ochanomizu, Tokyo

I think it’s better to carry out the Olympics, since athletes all over the world should have been working hard. It’s a shame that no spectators will be able to come from overseas. I wish they would have enjoyed Japanese culture such as authentic sushi.

I have been a member of a street football organisation ‘Nobushi Japan’ [organised by The Big Issue Foundation in Japan, which has participated in the Homeless World Cup] for five years. Originally we practised twice a week, but since March we are having a break.

At first, I was scouted and joined the team, and now I go to practice as if I am learning something. It’s more like a routine rather than playing better.

I like travelling abroad [Nakajima loves to buy cheap flight tickets and travel], so I hope to go abroad for tournaments someday, like France or England.

With thanks to Makiko Maruyama

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