Organizers and some artists who were due to attend the Rock in Japan festival in Ibaraki Prefecture have expressed frustration at the abrupt cancellation of the event, even though the prefecture is not in a state of emergency.
The cancellation of the annual music festival, one of the largest in the country and which has been canceled twice in just two years, sparked a backlash from some who noted that the Summer Olympics were to be held despite the state of emergency in place for the Tokyo region.
Another problem is that the canceled event will not be eligible for government financial assistance. The central government would normally cover up to 25 million yen in costs caused by the event’s closure. But because Ibaraki prefecture is not currently in a state of emergency or near-emergency, this is not possible, said Taro Yamada, an upper house lawmaker and member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. .
The cancellation does not bode well for the many other music festivals hoping to take place this summer.
Hokkaido’s Rising Sun Rock Festival scheduled for August has already been canceled. Other summer music festivals that could be affected by the pandemic include the famous Fuji Rock Festival in Niigata Prefecture and Sweet Lover Shower in Yamanashi Prefecture, both also scheduled for next month.
âWe have to continue to prepare and hope the situation improves,â said Tomoaki Ishitobi of Smash Corp., which hosts the Fuji Rock event.
The decision to cancel the long-planned Rock in Japan festival came after Ibaraki’s local medical association met with organizers on July 2 and urged them to consider canceling or postponing depending on the situation. of COVID-19. Even if the show were to continue, the association also wanted further reductions in the number of spectators and more extensive infection prevention measures at the site.
The annual Hitachinaka City Festival this year was to feature such popular artists as LiSA, Sakanaction, King Gnu, and Momoiro Clover Z.
Event producer Yoichi Shibuya released a statement on Wednesday apologizing to fans and noted that the organizers have worked tirelessly to find the best way to host the festival while reducing the risk of infection.
âWe received the approval (for the festival) after following the guidelines of the central government and cooperating with the government of Ibaraki prefecture and Hitachinaka city,â Shibuya said. However, “because the request came just a month before the festival, it was almost impossible to change the basic plans for the event, and we really couldn’t do anything”, so that left the organizers to no choice but to cancel, Shibuya added.
Further limiting the number of visitors was impractical as tickets were already on sale and running a lottery would hurt fan confidence, he said.
Shibuya also said the medical association in its request to cancel or delay the event was vague on the specific criteria that would justify such a decision.
“We did not know what constituted” the spread of the infection “(according to the association), whether it was the number of people infected, the deaths, the occupancy rates of hospital beds or the proclamation of the ‘state of emergency,’ he said. âSo we didn’t know what action to take. “
“Under these circumstances, we could not delay our decision (to cancel the event)” because the longer we waited, the more the cancellation fee would have increased, he added.
According to the Economic Impact Research Laboratory, the operational expenses of the organizers were estimated at around 800 million euros. Separately, ticket sales have been estimated at around 700 million yen.
Yamada noted during an Upper House committee session on Thursday that other prefectures not subject to a state of emergency or near-emergency restrictions would also not be eligible to receive financial support if their festivals. were canceled.
“If more events are forced to be canceled in prefectures not subject to emergency restrictions, it would be difficult to convey to people why the Olympics are still being held,” Yamada said when interviewing Yasutoshi Nishimra, the Minister of State for COVID. -19 response. He said the vague criteria for implementing infection measures confused organizers.
The issue was even raised during Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s press conference on Thursday.
A reporter asked Suga how he would respond to people wondering why the Tokyo Olympics are going as planned despite the state of emergency when other events are closed.
Suga said it was very unfortunate that the Rock in Japan festival was canceled, but stressed that the Olympics and Paralympics are treated the same as other events in terms of restrictions.
Yojiro Noda, a member of the popular group Radwimps, who was scheduled to perform at the Rock in Japan festival, expressed his disappointment at the cancellation.
âMany experts have already pointed out that the number of infections is expected to increase as a result of the Olympics, whether spectators are allowed to attend or not; but things have always been on the assumption that it will happen, âhe said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
âBehind this (scenario), industries and national events are making sacrifices, and I just feel drained,â he added.
Takuya Yamanaka, singer of The Original Cigarettes, lamented the cancellation in a tweet.
âThe fruits produced by the good hearts and efforts of many people have been broken. Any idea how heavy it is?
Kyodo information added.
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