Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a task force meeting called to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak on Feb. 26 at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo. (Takeshi Iwashita)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes a top-down request for the cancellation of large sporting and public events across the nation will mark a united front against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"I will urge national sporting events and cultural events that attract a lot of people to be canceled, postponed or downsized for the next two weeks, considering that such events pose large-scale infection risks," Abe said on Feb. 26.

Abe expressed his intention to make such request, which is non-binding, at a task force meeting for measures to control the spread of the virus.

A government panel of experts on Feb. 24 indicated that the next one to two weeks will be crucial in determining if the outbreak will worsen or wind down.

However, the final decision on holding or canceling an event will be in the hands of organizers and individuals.