TOKYO, March 17 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that Group of Seven leaders had agreed to support a “complete” Olympic Games, although he sidestepped a question on whether they had discussed a delay in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Abe said he had told other G7 leaders: “We are doing everything in our power to prepare (for the Games), and we want to aim for a complete event as proof that mankind can defeat the new coronavirus.”
The leaders expressed their support, he told reporters around midnight in Tokyo after the G7 heads of state held an unprecedented meeting by video conference.
When asked specifically whether any of the leaders brought up a delay, Abe repeated the same line.
At the meeting, G7 leaders committed to doing “whatever is necessary” to battle the coronavirus pandemic and to work together more closely to protect public health, jobs and growth, and issued a statement promising to address the health and economic risks.
The virus has infected almost 180,000 people and killed over 7,000 worldwide, with the epicentre having switched from China to Europe. Sports competitions have come to a halt in Europe, hampering the preparations of athletes for the Olympics.
Further stoking those concerns, the head of the French Olympic Committee said on Monday the pandemic must have reached its peak and be on the wane by the end of May for the Tokyo Olympics to be staged on schedule.
U.S. President Donald Trump said separately that the worst of the virus could be over by July or August, a more specific and lengthier timeframe than he has previously suggested. The Olympics are due to run from July 24 to Aug. 9. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Stephen Coates)