Japan’s Abe says G7 supports ‘complete’ Games
Olympic Committee deputy head has coronavirus: statement
Published: Mar 17, 2020 06:23 PM

Seiko Hashimoto, Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: VCG


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that Group of Seven leaders had agreed to support a "complete" Olympics, but dodged questions about whether any of the leaders had brought up the possibility of postponement.

His comments come as concerns mount about whether the Games can proceed as planned now that the ­rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic has brought business and social activity in many countries to a standstill and panic to financial markets. 

A fresh domestic poll showed most Japanese believe the Games should be postponed.

However, the Olympic torch relay will start in Japan as planned later this month, Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto said on Tuesday. But parts of it will be closed to the public and some events cancelled amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The so-called "grand start" of the relay due to begin in Fukushima prefecture, hit by the March 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster, will take place on March 26 but without spectators, Muto said.

In an unprecedented meeting with other G7 leaders by video conference to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, Abe said he had told them, "We are doing everything in our power to prepare, and we want to aim for a complete event as proof that mankind can defeat the new coronavirus."

When pressed at a briefing about whether there had been discussion of a delay, Abe repeated the same line.

Interpreting Abe's comments at a news conference hours later, Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said a "complete" event referred to holding the Games this summer as scheduled, with spectators present.

Japan Olympic Committee deputy chief Kozo Tashima said Tuesday he had contracted coronavirus, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the Summer Games.

"Today, my test result showed positive for the new coronavirus," Tashima said in a statement, issued via the ­Japan Football Association, which he also heads.