A decision on whether to postpone this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games will be taken in coming days, two sources within the Olympic movement told Reuters on Tuesday.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Games organisers are under mounting pressure to postpone the Games due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach will hold a telephone conference at 1100 GMT to discuss a delay, the IOC said.
“Today, the IOC is discussing with the Japanese government, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the IOC Executive Board about the scenario planning including the postponement of the Games and will communicate in due course,” the IOC said.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the IOC and Japan would not take the full four weeks of consultation announced by the Olympic body on Sunday after finally saying that postponement was an option.
“A decision will be announced in the coming days. It is not a matter of weeks but days,” one source said.
Another source said it could even come before Japan kicks off its scaled-down torch relay on Thursday in Fukushima, the site of the March 11, 2011, nuclear power plant meltdowns triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami.
The Olympic flame, which flew to Japan last week from Greece, will be carried not by relay runners, but in a lantern in the modified event.
The IOC and organisers long insisted the Games would go ahead as planned from July 24 but as the virus spread from Asia to Europe and further west, opposition to the Games mounted with athletes struggling with preparations.
It would be the first time the Olympics have been moved or delayed during peacetime in their 124-year modern history.
The outbreak has now infected more than 377,000 people across 194 countries and territories, with over 16,500 deaths.
Major sporting powers Canada and Australia have already said they will not be sending teams to Tokyo if the Games go ahead as scheduled this year, and British organisers said they were likely to follow suit after meeting with sporting body representatives on Tuesday.
The United States has added its weight to calls for a delay and New Zealand pressed for a quick decision.