Japan rebuffs Trump’s suggestion to postpone Olympics

Tokyo, Mar 13 (efe-epa).- Japan’s prime minister on Friday assured the president of the United States that the country continues to prepare the Olympic Games to begin on the scheduled date, hours after the US leader suggested a one-year postponement.

In a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reported on the issues that Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe spoke about in a telephone conversation centered around the novel coronavirus, which lasted about 50 minutes.

The talk took place hours after Trump suggested postponing the Olympic Games, scheduled to begin on July 24, for a year to avoid “empty stadiums” during sports competitions due to the spread of the coronavirus.

“I think if you cancel it, make it a year later, that’s a better alternative than doing it with no crowd,” Trump had told reporters.

In Tokyo, Suga said that Abe and Trump had spoken about the Olympics and when asked about the comments of the US president, said that “there is no change to the government stance that we will make preparations for the Tokyo Games as planned.”

When journalists insisted on an answer on whether the two leaders had specifically mentioned the possibility of postponing the sports event for a year, Suga said he had excused himself for a moment but while he was present there was no mention of that possibility.

When asked about the possibility of organizing the Olympic Games with no audience, Suga replied: “We are not thinking about that at all.”

Trump tweeted that he had a “great conversation” with Abe and that he told him that the Olympics venue, which has already been completed, “is magnificent.”

“Good things will happen for Japan and their great Prime Minister. Lots of options!” Trump added, without explaining what he meant.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said “there is no way that the games will be canceled,” according to Kyodo news.

The conversation between the two leaders took place hours after the Olympic torch began its journey from Greece to Japan, where it will arrive next week.

Both the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee have continuously assured that the Olympics will take place on the scheduled date, with special measures to avoid COVID-19 contagion.

Japan has detected about 1,400 cases of COVID-19, with 26 deaths, including people who were infected aboard a cruise ship that was quarantined in early February in the port of Yokohama.

But the spread of COVID-19 worldwide is leading, among other measures, to numerous restrictions on international movement due to special controls or the prohibition of entry to many travelers. EFE-EPA


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