The International Olympic Committee has given itself a month to consider postponing the 2020 Olympics after an emergency meeting on Sunday.
However, the IOC stated in a press release that “cancellation is not on the agenda” with respect to the upcoming Games.
The announcement comes in the wake of a growing chorus of voices from international sport organizations and high-profile athletes calling for the postponement of Tokyo 2020.
“In light of the worldwide deteriorating situation… the executive board has today initiated the next step in the IOC’s scenario-planning,” it said in a statement.
“These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games.”
Cancellation is “not on the agenda”, said the IOC, but a “scaled-down” Games will also be considered.
However, postponement – by either several months or probably a whole year – is thought to be the most likely outcome.
The development marks a significant shift by the IOC, which as recently as five days ago said it was “fully committed” to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan. It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interest of the athletes and everyone else involved.”