President Donald Trump has become the first world leader to suggest postponing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.
“This is just my idea… Maybe they postpone it for a year,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, 134 days before the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.
Trump added that delaying the Olympics by a year would be a better option than holding it with no crowds.
However, he said he would not relay the message to Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, according to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK. The pair held telephone talks Friday Japan local time.
In response to Trump’s comments, Japan’s Olympics minister, Seiko Hashimoto, stressed the preparations for a “safe and secure” Games were still underway.
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“I’m aware of President Trump’s remarks, however, neither the IOC nor the organizing committee has considered any postponement or cancellation of the Games,” she said.
Trump’s latest comments came as the Olympic flame lighting ceremony kicked off in Greece Thursday, and as International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Tokyo 2020 would go ahead as planned.