President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE on Monday said that the United States' decision on whether to participate in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be “guided by the wishes” of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.
The president said in an early-morning tweet that he trusted Abe to make a "proper decision" about the event as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus continued to climb worldwide, causing a mass closure of businesses and schools and a suspension of sporting events.
We will be guided by the wishes of Prime Minister Abe of Japan, a great friend of the United States and a man who has done a magnificent job on the Olympic Venue, as to attending the Olympic Games in Japan. He will make the proper decision!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
The outbreak has led to growing calls for the Olympics to be either canceled or postponed, though the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has yet to make a final decision.
The body said that it would make a decision within four weeks, noting that it needs to account for various complexities dealing with rescheduling the global event that thousands of athletes and visitors converge on.
Canada and Australia announced over the weekend that they would not send their athletes to this summer's Olympics and Paralympics. Each country has called for the Olympics, set to begin on July 24, to instead be held in 2021.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Abe for the first time acknowledged that postponing the Olympics was a possibility.
“The IOC’s decision is along the lines of what I said before, of holding the event in its complete form. If that becomes difficult — and thinking first about the health of the athletes — we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games," Abe said, CNN reported.
The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China in December, has infected more than 345,000 people worldwide, including roughly 1,100 people in Japan, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The IOC executive board has ruled out canceling the games altogether, saying it would "destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes."
The board is considering several options in regards to possible postponement and announced on Sunday that it is stepping up "scenario-planning."
"The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement," the IOC said in a statement.
Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, said Monday that he and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach agreed on a review of postponement, but not a cancellation.
“What we are going to do before anything else is to start by simulating about whether we postpone one month, three months, five months, one year,” Mori said, according to The Washington Post. “We need to make a simulation about the various scenarios.”
Trump suggested earlier this month that a postponement of the Olympics made sense. But he left the decision to Abe, saying that "he's a friend of mine, he's built a beautiful venue."
"It's a very sad thing if that would happen, because the venue is incredible. They've spent billions of dollars," he said. "But I'll leave that up to Japan. That's up to them."
Updated at 8:53 a.m.