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Japan’s PM Abe turns vague on timing of Tokyo Olympics as coronavirus leaves games in doubt

Spectators wearing face masks attend the opening ceremony of the Ariake Arena, venue for the volleyball and wheelchair basketball competitions in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

TOKYO, Mar 17, 2020, Bloomberg. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has begun to shift his messaging on the Tokyo Olympics, in a sign he may have accepted that the deadly coronavirus will make it necessary to postpone the event planned to start in July, The Japan Times reported.

Abe and his Cabinet, as well as the organizers and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, had until days ago been unanimous in insisting the games would be staged as scheduled. But, following a G7 leaders’ video conference on the coronavirus Monday, Abe avoided comment on the timing of the event.

“I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics in their complete form, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G7 leaders,” he told reporters after the event.

Sporting events around the globe have been called off, delayed or held without spectators because of the virus, raising questions on whether it would be safe to bring hundreds of thousands of athletes, officials and spectators together in Tokyo. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the Tokyo Olympics should be pushed back a year.

Asked whether the timing of the event was discussed, Abe repeated the same phrases without answering directly. He also used similar words when asked about the issue in the Diet on Monday.

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