Pressure growing on Japan to delay summer games as Canada withdraws and Australia says preparing for postponement.

Canada has become the first country to withdraw its team from the Tokyo Olympics, increasing pressure on Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to delay an event he said for the first time on Monday could be postponed if it could not be held in its “complete form” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After an emergency meeting on Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was stepping up its “scenario planning” for the 2020 Games due to start on July 24, which would include a possible postponement.

Abe said that while cancelling the Games was not an option, a delay was now on the cards if that was the only way to hold the event in its complete form.

“If that becomes difficult, we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games,” he told parliament.

He said he had conveyed his views to Tokyo Games chief Yoshiro Mori on Sunday evening, who then discussed the issue with IOC President Thomas Bach.

Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in recent days, with several important stakeholders such as the US Track and Field and UK Athletics, along with several national Olympic committees, calling for a delay because of the pandemic.

Late on Sunday, the Canadian Olympic Committee became the first country to withdraw from the Games, urging organisers to postpone the event for one year.

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