Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics have begun making preparations to postpone the games this summer.
International news reports claim today, the highly-anticipated tournament has been shrouded in doubt for weeks as the coronavirus brings sport across the globe to a standstill.
Euro 2020 has already been pushed back to next year and other summer events such as Wimbledon looking increasingly unlikely to happen.
But Japan has been insistent that their games will go ahead and confident that the virus would not cause a threat when proceedings begin on July 24.
Mail Online reports: “An official source close to the organising committee has now admitted that discussions are underway to delay the tournament, with various different plans and ‘timeframes’ drawn up in such an event.
“The Olympic flame arrived in Miyagi on Friday, with 50,000 queuing up to see it the following day.”
The source told Reuters: :Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,’ the source, who is involved in the talks.
“We are making alternative plans – plan B, C, D – looking at different postponement timeframes.”
Meanwhile, another source, a boardroom member, said time was running out to make a decision.
“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.”
There have been a number of call for the games to be pushed back.
“The Global Athlete movement have demanded both the Olympics and Paralympics to be postponed having spoken to hundreds of athletes.
“They said restrictions on public gatherings across the world in addition to training facilities being closed on a wide scale mean that stars are without the ‘ability to appropriately prepare for these Games’,” the report said.
“Japan have been notably reluctant to entertain any notion of a postponement, with the country’s prime minister Shinzo Abe seeing the games as their moment to make a statement to the rest of the world and display their innovation.
“Around £20billion has been spent on Tokyo 2020, including £10billion on infrastructure.
“Currently Japan has over 1,000 cases of coronavirus with 36 deaths.”
The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.
“Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus,” the report added.
“That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.
“The scale of the outbreak in Japan saw senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound describe the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May.
“Olympic organisers told athletes to train as normal with no decision on cancellation.
“The Japanese government later insisted Pound’s comments were not the IOC’s official stance but there remains doubts over whether the summer showcase can still go ahead with health concerns.
“Athletes have been told to keep training and the plan remains to hold the Games in Japan as planned but training for around 80,000 volunteers has been delayed for at least until May – it was due to begin on February 22.
“On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.
“The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24.
“World Athletics chief Lord Coe claimed it is too early to cancel this summer’s Tokyo Olympics but has warned it could be done if necessary on March 19.”