A 53-year-old woman in Japan was arrested on Sunday for shooting a water gun at the Olympic torch during a relay, as she protested the decision to hold the Tokyo Games amid the pandemic.
In a viral video posted on YouTube and other social media sites, the woman is heard calling for the torch to be put out and shouting “end to the Olympics” while she shoots water toward the flame. She was stopped by a steward shortly after. The torch bearer moved on.
Noriaki Nagatsuka, a deputy police chief in the city of Mito, said the woman was arrested for “deliberately aiming at the runner and interfering with the relay.”
“You can’t shoot water at people for no good reason. She clearly wasn’t playing around—this isn’t child’s play,” Nagatsuka told VICE World News.
The relay took place in Ibaraki prefecture, about an hour northeast of Tokyo.
The Tokyo Summer Games are set to begin on July 23 after they were postponed for a year. But anti-Olympic protesters say the country’s not ready to hold a large international event safely given its low vaccination rate.
Only 14 percent of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated as of July 4, according to the research group Our World in Data. A recent Kyodo News poll found that 86 percent of people feared COVID-19 cases could rebound if both the Olympic and Paralympic Games go on as planned.
Additionally, the Olympic host city Tokyo is currently experiencing what appears to be the beginning of another outbreak, recording hundreds of new COVID-19 cases every day this week.
Concerns over public health have prompted Samoa to withdraw its weightlifters from the games. Two Ugandan Olympians and a Serbian athlete were quarantined after they tested positive for the virus upon their arrival in Tokyo.
Organizers have said they will enforce health measures such as social distancing between athletes and contact tracing in the Olympic village to prevent the spread of the virus. No contact, including sex, will be allowed between Olympians from different teams.