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'Scenario-planning' for Olympic postponement confirmed by IOC with decision in next four weeks

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A general picture of the Olympics logo in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

A general picture of the Olympics logo in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Getty Images

A general picture of the Olympics logo in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Contingency planning for a potential postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is being stepped up up, the International Olympic Committee has announced.

The Games organiser continues to insist that "cancellation is not on the agenda", in spite of the growing difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but accepts they could be moved to a new date.

This comes in response to the growing number of high-profile organisations and personalities calling for a postponement, including US Track and Field, the Spanish Football Federation and a number of individual athletes.

The IOC's executive board will now increase its "scenario-planning" to look at the different possibilities in what is an ever-changing situation. It intends to make decisions within four weeks.

A statement read: "The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo metropolitan government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement."

It added any decisions to alter the Games, which are due to begin on July, would impact on the "millions of nights already booked in hotels and the calendars of 33 sports, among "many, many more challenges".

However, the IOC remains adamant that the Games will go ahead at some point."

The statement said: "The IOC EB emphasised that a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda."

Olympic preparations for teams and athletes have been severely hampered by sporting shutdowns and social-distancing measures around the world.

The British Olympic Association has urged the IOC to act quickly and decisively.

Chairman Sir Hugh Robertson said: "We welcome the IOC executive board decision to review the options in respect of a postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"However, we urge rapid decision-making for the sake of athletes who still face significant uncertainty.

"Restrictions now in place have removed the ability of athletes to compete on a level playing field and it simply does not seem appropriate to continue on the present course towards the Olympic Games in the current environment."

Global Athlete, a body representing the interests of athletes, has added its voice to calls for a date change.

A statement read: "Athletes want to be part of a solution to ensure the Games are a success but under the current global restrictions that are limiting public gatherings as well as closing training facilities and borders, athletes do not have the ability to appropriately prepare for these Games and their health and safety must come first."

"By asking (athletes) to carry on as normal and continue to train for these Games clearly puts their physical and mental health at risk."

The statement further called on broadcasters and sponsors to show "flexibility and understanding" in allowing the Games to be staged safely.

PA Media