A visit to Hiroshima by Olympics chief Thomas Bach was met by protestors telling him to “go home” and accusing him of “dishonouring” the victims of the atomic bombing for allowing the games to take place during a pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president went to Hiroshima on Friday to pay respect at Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing.
His visit on the 76th anniversary of the Trinity nuclear test in New Mexico which led to the nuclear attacks in the later weeks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki coincided with the first day of the so-called Olympic truce, which calls for a worldwide cease-fire during the games.
As Mr Bach laid a wreath and observed a minute of silence, several protesters shouted "go home Bach" and "you’re not welcome here."
Several other protesters carried signs reading "Cancel The Olympics" and "No Bach."
The protest by survivors and families of victims of the bombing came as public frustration continues over IOC insisting on going ahead with the Tokyo 2020 Games amid coronavirus pandemic.
A petition opposing Mr Bach’s visit to the city attracted 70,000 signatures while a group of 11 anti-Olympic and pacifists groups sent a letter to the city earlier this week opposing his visit.
Shuichi Adachi, a former Hiroshima bar association head, released a statement on behalf of 11 anti-Olympic and pacifist groups, saying the act of going ahead with games would do “harm to the global nuclear weapons ban movement”.
“President Bach using the image of ‘a peaceful world without nuclear weapons’ only to justify holding of the Olympics by force under the pandemic is a blasphemy to atomic bombing survivors,” he said, according to Kyodo news agency.
Kunihiko Sakuma, head of another group supporting survivors of bombing, said: “Holding the Olympics under the current situation where many lives are lost [due to the virus] runs counter to the spirit of the Games that is supposed to be a festival of peace.”
Making the visit on Friday, Mr Bach said he was there to pay respect to Hiroshima as a city of peace and survivors of blast.
"Without solidarity, there is no peace," he said, adding that the Tokyo Olympics would be a "beacon of hope for a better and more peaceful future."
A protester, speaking on microphone said: "You should understand you are not welcome here."
"The COVID-19 situation is getting worse, it hasn’t come to an end, and I wonder why this has to go ahead," said Sayuri Yamada, who was not part of the protest.
The games begin on 23 July will see thousands of athletes travel to Japan, as well as media, broadcasters, officials and others.
The influx of scores of people from different parts of the world has led to the fears of more wild transmission of Covid virus in the country even as it will have no live audience in Tokyo and three prefectures.
A few outlying venues are expected to allow a smattering of fans.
Tokyo which is under a state of emergency reported 1,271 new Covid-19 cases on Friday. On Thursday 1,308 new cases were reported, which was the highest in six months.
Additional reported by agencies