The Olympics are on the verge of being postponed after a four-week deadline was yesterday agreed for alternative plans to be drawn up.
Amid overwhelming pressure from athletes, governing bodies and even its own members for Tokyo 2020 to be put back, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set a cut-off date for deciding on the fate of sport's biggest event, with the IOC still refusing to concede there was no prospect of the Games starting on time on July 24.
Confirming the possible delay in open letter, its president, Thomas Bach, wrote: "We have started detailed discussions today to complete our assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including a scenario of postponement. We are working very hard, and we are confident that we will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks."
The IOC added in a statement that cancellation of the Olympics was "not on the agenda", although a scaled-down Games has not been entirely ruled out.
The options, which also included holding them without fans, would be debated by the organising committee at the end of the month, according to one official.
The source added organising staff were holding out hope for a delay of only a month or 45 days.
But another source warned a postponement of one or even two years were being discussed. One board member of the organising committee said a decision should be made quickly. "The more they push the decision away ... more and more preparations have to be made - this will cause cancellation fees to go through the roof," the board member said.
The IOC's change of stance also followed a warning from sport's greatest anti-doping crusader, Travis Tygart, who said failure to postpone the Olympics would risk them becoming "the dirtiest Games ever". (© Daily Telegraph, London)
There's a certain consolation for those of us not talented enough, committed enough or abstinent enough to ever make the Olympics: we've got the same shot as the world's best athletes of competing in Tokyo this summer - none.