World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe has called for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed over the coronavirus pandemic as Canada pulled out of the Games and Japan's prime minister admitted a delay could be "inevitable".
Australia also told its athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Olympics in 2021 as expectations grew that the event, scheduled to start on July 24, would be postponed, while the Swiss Olympic committee asked for the Games to be delayed.
Japanese and Olympic officials had stuck resolutely to the line that the Summer Games would go ahead on time, but criticism from athletes and sports bodies has swelled to a crescendo in recent days.
In a letter to International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, written before Sunday's IOC meeting, World Athletics president Coe asked for the Games to be moved.
"Whilst we all know that different parts of the world are at different stages of the virus, the unanimous view across all our areas is that an Olympic Games in July this year is neither feasible nor desirable," Coe said in his letter.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament on Monday that Japan was still committed to a "complete" Games, but conceded "it may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone".
It was the second major concession in a matter of hours after the IOC said "the scenario of postponement" was one of the options under consideration, with a final decision due within four weeks.
"Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games," the IOC's Bach wrote in an open letter to athletes after emergency talks.
"Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody," Bach added. "Therefore it is not on our agenda."
Senior IOC official Dick Pound also said that postponing the Games is now the likeliest conclusion.
"I think the one-year postponement is the most feasible because it gives you the most time to organise," he told AFP.