After weeks of insisting that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would go ahead as planned despite the novel coronavirus becoming a global pandemic, the organising committee admitted on Monday that postponement of the Games was being considered.
"We're not decided on postponing the Olympics, but we can't not consider it as a realistic option either," committee president Yoshiro Mori told a news conference.
"I'm not so foolish as to insist that the Olympics go ahead as initially planned, given the spread and impact the novel coronavirus crisis has inflicted across the world, Mori said.
Mori said that while the committee preference was for the Games to go ahead on schedule in July, Japan would look at all alternatives along with the International Olympic Committee, and those talks would also address the extra costs resulting from any delay.
The IOC said on Sunday that discussions would be held over the next four weeks.
The chief executive officer of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee Toshiro Muto, ruled out abandoning the Games altogether.
"We are not at all considering cancelling the Olympics," Muto said.
The Olympic torch relay, which is due to start on Thursday, will go ahead as planned for now, even though that schedule is also open to change, Muto said.
A crowd of 500 people formed despite government warnings when the Olympic flame arrived in Japan on Friday.