Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020Reuters

The International Olympic Committee said on Sunday that postponing the 2020 Olympics is one of its options as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, but that cancellation of the Tokyo showpiece was "not on the agenda", AFP reports.

The IOC has faced strong pressure to push back this summer's Tokyo Games, scheduled to take place between July 24 and August 9.

On Sunday, IOC President Thomas Bach, a former Olympic fencing gold medalist, told athletes a decision on the Games would be made "within the next four weeks".

"Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games," Bach wrote in a letter quoted by AFP.

He acknowledged that this was a time of "tremendous uncertainty" which, he said "destroys hope."

"We have, as indicated before, been thinking in different scenarios and are adapting them almost day by day," he said.

But, he added that "there are significant improvements in Japan" and he still had hopes the Games could be held on schedule, even if that would present logistical difficulties.

"A final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature," said Bach.

He explained that the IOC was discussing its options with health authorities and "stakeholders".

"We are confident that we will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks."

He made clear that there would be games in Tokyo at some point, stressing, "Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody. Therefore it is not on our agenda."

Earlier on Sunday, nine-time Olympic track and field champion Carl Lewis, as well as the head of French athletics added their voices to the US and French swimming federations, the US and Spanish athletics federations, the Norwegian Olympic Committee and past and current athletes, in calling to postpone the Olympic Games.

Last week, UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, postponed its marquee championship, Euro 2020, until next week in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

It was followed by the NHL which suspended its season as well, and MLB which cancelled Spring Training and delayed the start of its regular season, which had been scheduled for March 26.