Japan’s Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto has said that the Tokyo Olympic games could be postponed until the end of the year due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country, Independent reported.

According to an agreement with the International Olympic Committee, Japan can push the start of the Games to a later date in 2020 if the coronavirus outbreak intensifies in the months to come. The summer Games are scheduled to begin on July 24.

“The contract calls for the games to be held within 2020. That could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” Hashimoto said in the Japanese parliament. “We are doing all we can to ensure that the Games go ahead as planned.”

The report stated that the number of cases affected due to coronavirus in Japan has touched 1,000. IOC president Thomas Bach, speaking at the opening of the Olympic body’s two-day executive board meeting in Lausanne, said: “We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020.”

Many sporting events around the world have either been cancelled or postponed in the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. More than 3,100 people have died and over 90,000 have been infected in more than 60 countries worldwide. “We will have to prepare many of the final decisions that we will have to take in June,” Bach said in reference to a first pre-Games executive board meeting between June 15-17, also in Lausanne.

“We will have to make some proposals for the session in Tokyo.”

(With AFP inputs)