U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested postponing this summer’s Tokyo Olympics for a year amid the global spread of the coronavirus.
Trump said the move would be better than seeing “empty stadiums all over the place.”
“I would say maybe they postpone it for a year,” Trump told reporters. He did however deny making the suggestion to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whom he calls a “great friend of mine.”
“They’re very smart, they’re going to make their own (decision), but I like that better than I like having empty stadiums all over the place. I think, if you cancel it, make it a year later, that’s a better alternative than doing it with no crowd,” he said.
Soon after, Japan’s government brushed off U.S. President Donald Trump’s recommendation, saying it’s pressing ahead to start the Games as planned this summer.
Olympics Minister, Seiko Hashimoto and Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, both said there were no changes to the plan to stage the event starting July 24. They said that the idea of reducing the number of spectators at the event was not under consideration.
Nevertheless, there’s growing concern that the pandemic sweeping the globe might force the first cancellation of an Olympic Games since World War Two.
The number of coronavirus infections in Japan to date has been confirmed at 684. Major sports globally and domestically have been suspended or cancelled to stem the spread of the virus.
The International Olympic Committee and host nation Japan are holding the line that the Tokyo Games will begin as planned.