An executive board member of the Tokyo Games organizing committee said Friday a decision on whether to go ahead with the postponed Summer Olympics and Paralympics should be made no earlier than next spring.
Toshiaki Endo, one of the vice presidents of the organizing committee, said it was important to monitor the coronavirus situation and assess its potential impact on the games.
"Selecting athletes by around next March will be a major challenge. The organizing committee will need to make some kind of a decision considering the situation at that time," Endo, a lawmaker and former Olympic minister, said at a meeting of his Liberal Democratic Party.
His comments were the first in public by an executive member of the organizing committee about when a decision regarding the fate of the games might be made.
The Olympics and Paralympics, which were originally scheduled for this summer, were postponed in March after athletes and National Olympic Committees voiced fears over the virus, and a number of qualifying events had to be canceled.
"There are still many estimates, and it is unclear what the new coronavirus situation will be next summer. It is still too early to discuss whether to hold (the games) or not," he said.
John Coates, who heads the IOC's coordination commission, has indicated that October will be a critical period for assessing whether the Japanese capital will be able to welcome the world, according to Australian media.
Endo, however, said he has confirmed with the IOC that no deadline had been set on making a decision.
Last month, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in an interview with BBC Sport that he accepts that the virus-hit Tokyo Games will have to be canceled if they cannot be held next year.
Japan is considering simplifying the format of the Summer Games, including reducing the number of spectators and scaling back the opening and closing ceremonies, government sources said Thursday. The move demonstrates Tokyo is willing to be flexible to ensure the games have the best chance of going ahead.
Organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike also held talks Thursday and agreed to simplify the games while going ahead with preparations. Koike told a press conference Friday that scaling back the events related to the Olympics and Paralympics was one of the topics discussed.
The Tokyo Olympics are now slated to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 next year, with the Paralympic Games following between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5.
The Tokyo Games organizing committee said it is scheduled to make a virtual presentation about its preparations to the IOC executive board next week.