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Prime minister Shinzo Abe says Japan will still host the Olympic Games

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers a question

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers a question during his press conference about the coronavirus situation in Japan on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Credit: AP/Eugene Hoshiko

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday said his country still intends to host the Olympic Games in Tokyo as planned.

Abe said at a news conference there were no discussions about postponing or canceling the Games during talks with President Donald Trump, who suggested this week that Japan should consider postponing the Olympics because of the spread of the coronavirus.

“We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem as planned,” and delaying them was “not a subject at all,”  Abe told a news conference in Tokyo.

Abe said Japan was continuing to “coordinate well” with the International Olympic Committee, adding: “We have to overcome the spread of the infection and want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics as planned.”

The Olympic Games are scheduled to take place from July 24-Aug. 9, and the Paralympics Aug. 25-Sept. 6.

Abe said the virus outbreak has not reached a point in Japan that requires him to declare a national emergency as the United States and parts of Europe have.

The Olympic Torch relay is due to start in the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima in less than two weeks. The torch’s tour through Greece has already been cut short.

'Abandon season'

A leading executive at a relegation-threatened Premier League team has called for the English soccer season to be abandoned, saying officials were in “dreamland” if they thought play could resume early next month after games were suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“The only fair and reasonable thing to do is declare the whole season null and void,” West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady wrote in her column in The Sun newspaper.

West Ham is in 16th place in the 20-team division, only out of the relegation zone on points difference with nine rounds remaining. It has played one more game than 19th-place Aston Villa, which is two points behind West Ham.

The Premier League said it hopes to be back up and running, if possible, by the weekend of April 3-4 - meaning two rounds will have been missed - but Brady sees that prospect as unlikely.

“There are, of course, financial implications, wages and transfer debts must be paid and there is lost broadcast revenue, lost matchday income but this pales into insignificance as the health and well-being of everyone must come first,“ she added.

“The virus has a long way to travel yet.”

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