The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) have backed postponement of the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday announcing it could take up to four weeks to decide whether the Olympics would go ahead, veteran IOC member Dick Pound has told USA Today that the Games will be postponed until 2021.

"On the basis of the information, the IOC has, postponement has been decided," Pound told USA Today.

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"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."

NZOC secretary-general Kereyn Smith told the Radio Sport Breakfast, the global circumstances demanded change.

"Time is just not on anybody's side," she said. "It would feel to me that a postponement is now inevitable.

NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith. Photo / Photosport
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith. Photo / Photosport

"At a very fundamental level, athletes, they need to be able to train, compete and qualify, they need a level playing field, they need time for this massive pinnacle event and clearly all of those things are now compromised for so many athletes."

The IOC's reported call to postpone the Games come after a number of sporting bodies threatened to boycott the event.

Canada announced it had taken "the difficult decision" to pull out of the Games after consulting athletes, sports groups, and the government, while Australia's committee said athletes needed to prioritise their own health and of those around them.

Smith believed it played a key role in recent developments.

"The call for change was significant," she said. "Today, athletes have the power of social media and I think that really ramped up and there were stronger and stronger calls from sports."

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Smith added that postponement was a far better option than cancelling the Games altogether.

"This Olympic dream is really important and the Paralympic dream for our athletes and all the coaches and people who support them in their sports and their parents so it's huge in people's lives," she said.

"For us, a cancellation would have been hugely devastating ... I guess the question athletes and for us and everyone involved now is just to get certainty on what that looks like."