Japanese leaders have yet to decide on holding the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to President Trump.
At a White House news conference on Thursday morning, Trump said he discussed the matter with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a conference call.
“That’s a big decision for him … it’s a tough situation,” Trump said to reporters. “He told us he has not made a decision as to what to do.”
The president’s comments came hours after a scaled-down ceremony at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where only a few people were permitted to watch Greek officials hand the Olympic flame to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in a traditional ceremony.
“I wish to believe that the journey of the Olympic flame in your country will offer joy and hope to the people of the world, who are currently in pain and challenged,” said Spyros Capralos, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee.
With spectators barred from the venue, the Japanese sent a limited delegation led by former Olympic swimmer Naoko Imoto. A chartered flight carrying the flame subsequently left for Tokyo.
Debate continues over whether the International Olympic Committee should postpone or cancel the Summer Games, set for July 24 through Aug. 9.
Regional Olympic organizations from Europe, Africa and elsewhere have voiced support for proceeding as planned. But Sir Matthew Pinsent, a four-time Olympic champion in rowing from Britain, offered a different opinion.
Pinsent criticized IOC President Thomas Bach for moving ahead.
“I’m sorry Mr Bach but this is tone deaf,” he wrote on social media. “The instinct to keep safe (not to mention obey govt instructions to lock down) is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators, organizers, etc. Keep them safe. Call it off.”