In Sunday’s vote, 271 candidates are competing for 127 seats. Eligible voters total 9.8 million people in the megacity with a population of nearly 14 million.
Public opinion polls show that most people want the games to be canceled or postponed again. Behind the fears is the delay in launching the vaccine, with only about 10% of the population fully vaccinated.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike reported ill two weeks ago, citing exhaustion, and was not seen in public until Friday. His routine role would have been that of his party, Tomin First, the largest with 46 seats in the assembly ahead of the elections.
Neither Koike nor his party pushed for cancellation, instead calling for games without fans in the stands. The organizing committee has said that a decision on attendance restrictions is still under consideration.
The only major party that clearly advocated canceling the Olympics was the Communist Party, which had 18 seats.
The Democrats, one of the main opposition parties, raised questions about the Olympics, but pushed other issues in their campaign, such as financial aid for those affected by the coronavirus.
The Olympic Games, which open on July 23, bring together 15,000 athletes and more than 50,000 officials, including corporate sponsors and dignitaries, as well as 70,000 volunteers.
Some medical experts have warned that it could turn into a Covid-19 superprocessor event, warning that new cases in Tokyo, now numbering several hundred, could skyrocket into thousands.
Olympic team members and officials are more likely than the Japanese public to have been fully vaccinated.
The ruling Liberal Democrats, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s party, which previously held 25 seats in the Tokyo assembly, is likely to increase their representation as the momentum of Koike’s party has faded, according to Japanese media reports. But most people were still undecided.
Koike, a former news anchor, became the first female governor of Tokyo in 2016 and was re-elected for another four-year term in 2020.
She is an advocate for gender equality, likening the situation in Japan to “an iron plate”, rather than “a glass ceiling.”
Analysts say Koike, a former parliamentary lawmaker, may be contemplating a return to national politics. Parliamentary elections are expected later this year.