The Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until next year, according to a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Yesterday the IOC announced it could take up to four weeks to decide whether the event will go ahead despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The IOC is planning meetings with Japanese public authorities, global sports officials, broadcasters and sponsors that will deal with scenario planning for the Olympics, which are scheduled to start July 24. Canceling the games is not under consideration.
Veteran IOC member Dick Pound has told USA Today that it will be postponed until 2021.
"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided," Pound told USA Today.
"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."
"It will come in stages," he said. "We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense," Pound added.
IOC President Thomas Bach sent a letter to athletes explaining the decision and why it might take so long, while also acknowledging the extended timeline might not be popular.
"I know that this unprecedented situation leaves many of your questions open," he wrote. "I also know that this rational approach may not be in line with the emotions many of you have to go through."
But only hours after the announcement, World Athletics President Seb Coe sent a letter to Bach saying that holding the Olympics in July "is neither feasible nor desirable." He outlined a number of reasons, including competitive fairness, the likelihood athletes would overtrain if given a compressed schedule and the uncertainty caused by orders in many countries barring people from gyms and other workout venues.
"No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but ... we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety," he wrote. "A decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly."
Britain won't send athletes if Games go ahead
Canada and Australia have pulled out and now Britain warns it will not send a team to the Olympic Games if the coronavirus continues to spread at the current rate.
No one, it seems, expects the Tokyo Olympics to proceed as planned.
British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson is the latest to cast major doubt over the Games, scheduled for July 24 to August 9, after suggesting his team's involvement is extremely likely.
As of Tuesday (NZT), the United Kingdom has 5837 confirmed coronavirus cases including 335 deaths.
"We can't see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted," Robertson told the BBC. "I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly."
"I think it is very simple," Robertson said. "If the virus continues as predicted by the government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team.
"First, I don't see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then. Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.
"Secondly, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this. We are actually in a process where we are talking to all our sports. We will complete that over the next couple of days.
"We have already said to the IOC that we think their four-week pause is absolutely the right thing to do."
Robertson's comments come one day after Canada announced it had taken "the difficult decision" to pull out of the Games after consulting athletes, sports groups, and the government.
Australia's committee said athletes needed to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families.
"It's clear the Games can't be held in July," Ian Chesterman, Australian Team Chef de Mission said, bluntly. "Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them."
The head of the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) admitted on Tuesday (NZT) he had to consider postponing the Games amid increasing calls from committees around the world to delay.
"From the athletes' point of view of safety and security, we have to come to a stage where we cannot help but consider things including postponement," JOC President Yasuhiro Yamashita told Japan's parliament.
However, he said too long a delay would be a burden to athletes given the possibility of having to qualify again.
- With AP, additional reporting by Liam Napier