WASHINGTON – As Japan struggles to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he hopes Tokyo will host the Olympics this summer as planned.
“They’ve spent billions of dollars building one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen. And your prime minister’s very proud of it. I hope it’s going to be fine,” Trump said at a news conference, while seeking to reassure people in the United States that the risks posed by the virus remain “very low” there.
The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24 through Aug. 9.
Asked whether the United States will consider restricting travel to and from South Korea, Italy and other countries that are seeing a surge in infection cases, Trump said his government “may do that,” but that now is “not the right time.”
The U.S. State Department has already raised its four-level travel advisory for Japan and South Korea, which have seen large spikes in virus cases.
Japan is now a level 2 country, which requires “increased caution,” while South Korea is at level 3, which urges U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel.”
For China, where the virus originated, the travel advisory has been raised to the maximum level of 4, which urges citizens not to travel to the country.
Concerns are growing in the United States that the country may see a major outbreak.
An official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that successful containment at U.S. borders becomes harder as more countries experience a so-called community spread, or the transmission of the virus without a known source of exposure.
Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Iran and Italy are among those countries and regions, according to the institution.
“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” the official said.