U.S. President Donald Trump told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during phone talks Wednesday that a roughly one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was a “wise and great” decision, Japan’s top government spokesman has said.
A day after the International Olympic Committee board endorsed the delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Abe and Trump confirmed they would work closely to realize the games in a “complete” way as proof that humankind has beaten the virus.
“President Trump repeatedly said the postponement was a very wise and great decision and he expressed support for the prime minister’s stance,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.
Trump was the first foreign leader to hold phone talks with Abe after the prime minister and IOC President Thomas Bach agreed Tuesday night to postpone the games, initially set to begin July 24. The major sporting event will be held no later than in the summer of 2021.
Abe and Trump agreed to cooperate over their response to the new coronavirus, including on drug development to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, Suga said.
Abe previously spoke with Trump by phone on March 13 after the U.S. president proposed a one-year postponement. At the time, Abe told Trump that Japan was making preparations to hold the games as planned.
But the IOC said Sunday that various options, including postponement, would be weighed over the next four weeks, apparently prompting a swift change in Abe’s stance. He said in a parliamentary session that a delay would be an option if the games could not be held in a “complete way.”