July Olympics 'neither feasible nor desirable,' says World Athletics president

In a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe says the time has come to select a new date and postpone Tokyo 2020, writing that an Olympics in July is "neither feasible nor desirable."

Sebastien Coe says World Athletics is unanimous in call to postpone Olympics

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe during a press conference on Nov. 22, 2019 in Monaco. He urged the IOC postpone the Games. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe says the time has come to select a new date and postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

CBC News obtained through a source a letter written by Coe directly to IOC President Thomas Bach on Sunday.

The two-page letter highlights a number of concerns regarding going ahead with the Olympics as planned in July.

"The unanimous view across all our areas is that an Olympic Games in July this year is neither feasible nor desirable," Coe wrote to Bach.

Coe outlined three main reasons for needing to postpone the Games, including competition fairness, issues over training, and athletes injuring themselves and maintaining their health.

"The uncertainty of the Olympic Games happening in July and the inherent desire and motivation to excel that resides in all our athletes is causing real anguish that we can, collectively, put a stop to," Coe wrote.

"I believe that time has come and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can. And in this matter, I believe we can."

Coe finished his letter, directly addressed to Bach, by saying "the whole of World Athletics remains available and at the ready to help secure a new date for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

'Cancellation is not on the agenda'

This all comes just hours after the International Olympic Committee announced it was giving itself a month to consider postponing the 2020 Olympics after an emergency meeting on Sunday.

However, the IOC stated in a press release that "cancellation is not on the agenda" with respect to the upcoming Games.

Coe's letter strikes a slightly different tone than World Athletics' official response to the IOC announcement.

Their public statement reads, "World Athletics welcomes discussions with the IOC to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and wrote to the IOC earlier today to relay this feedback from its area presidents, council and athletes. We stand ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date."

The IOC announcement comes in the wake of a growing chorus of voices from international sport organizations and high-profile athletes calling for the postponement of Tokyo 2020.

Furthermore, the IOC indicated in the press release that it will "step up" its contemplation of different scenarios surrounding the Games.

"These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games," the statement reads.

"This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan. It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interest of the athletes and everyone else involved," the IOC said.

With files from CBC News' Stephanie Jenzer