INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach hopes a decision on a new date for the Tokyo Games can be agreed “as soon as possible”.

The Games were put back to 2021 on Tuesday after the IOC and Japanese organisers were warned by the World Health Organisation that the virus spread was accelerating across the planet.

Bach said in a conference call on Wednesday morning that a call would take place with the 33 international sports federations on Thursday to discuss the matter.

“We have to see with them what the options are,” he said.

“After having consulted with them we also have to take into account the sporting calendar around the Olympic Games and many many other issues.

“We should come to a solution as soon as possible, but first priority should be the quality of the decision, to really be able to take the input of all stakeholders into account.”

Bach said a task force called Here We Go had been set up, with members drawn from the IOC’s co-ordination commission and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee.

Bach admitted finding the right point in the calendar was “a challenging question”.

Bach, who insisted he had not considered resigning as IOC president over the organisation’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, said the “dynamic” spread of the virus had led to the ramping up of discussions around a postponement.

He said the changing global picture differing from what was being seen on the ground in Japan.

“We had at the very beginning of this crisis a clear focus on the development in Japan, where we had always to evaluate whether Japan would be in a position to offer a safe environment for every participant,” he said.

“This focus then shifted more and more to the international world because we could see on the one hand the progress being made in Japan fighting the virus and the efficiency of the measures being taken, but we also had to see on the other side that the virus was spreading so rapidly that it became more and more a question whether the world could travel to Japan and whether Japan could afford, in the spirit of containing the virus, to really invite the world.”

Japan remained “very confident” it could successfully host the Games right up to the weekend, Bach said.

He said the picture began to change on Sunday when the IOC saw the spread of the virus in Africa and other parts of the world.

“This was the moment when we saw this on Sunday morning I called an emergency meeting of the IOC executive board with the aim to open a discussion with our Japanese hosts and partners and friends to start opening a discussion about the postponement of the Games,” the German said.

“We could not manage such a postponement without the support of Japan.”

Bach said that after the “pretty alarming” WHO declaration concerning the acceleration in spread of the virus, he spoke to the Tokyo organisers on Monday to say that a decision on postponement should be taken during the scheduled Tuesday conference call between Bach and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

“Then we had the phone call and as a result of this phone call then PM Abe himself asked in his introductory remark, he suggested a postponement as a decision of the IOC. Then after consultation in this phone call he came to conclusion that this must be, cannot be a unilateral decision of the IOC, but must be a joint decision because we need to be in full agreement, we need to be united. This was the sequence.

Bach did not rule out the possibility of the Here We Go task force settling on a date in the spring of 2021.

“The agreement is that we want to organise this Olympic Games at the latest in the summer of 2021. That means that this task force can consider the broader picture,” he said.

He was asked whether the IOC would be prepared to further postpone, or even cancel.

He said: “We have established the principle that we have always been following, and that we will be following in the future, that we will organise a Games only in a safe environment for all the participants.”