World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe has called for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be postponed, saying it is "neither feasible nor desirable" to hold the Games while the world fights the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Coe made the remarks in a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach ahead of an IOC meeting on Sunday. At the meeting, the IOC said it would hold discussions that would include an option of putting back the July 24 start date, or even moving the Games by a year or more. A decision on the Games' future would be made within the next four weeks, it said.
Calls to postpone the Games have risen sharply in the past few days, as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread to country after country. Canada on Sunday announced it would not send teams this summer and Australia told its athletes to instead prepare for the Olympics to take place in 2021.
On Monday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – who for weeks has insisted that his country will host the 2020 Olympics in July – conceded that postponing the event may become "inevitable".
'Take decision day-by-day'
Some athletes feel that the IOC needs more time to decide whether the Games should go on this year or not. Argentine sailor Santiago Lange, who is bidding for a seventh Olympic appearance, told Reuters that: "It's a moment to be together and I think the only solution is to take the decision day-by-day and to cancel the Games, we still have time."
"I'm absolutely sure that the International Olympic Committee, the government of Japan or organisation in Japan [TOCOG] plus the international health association [WHO] will not let the Olympics happen if there is any risk by any of the participants," he said.
More than 14,600 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began in China. Its epicentre is now in Europe.