The International Olympic Committee came under pressure to speed up its decision about postponing the Tokyo Games on Tuesday as athletes criticised the four-week deadline and the United States joined calls to delay the competition.

A decision on when the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be held is expected to be made within the next three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told countries on a conference call.

Insidethegames reports International Federations were given a similar timeline during a call with the IOC yesterday.

The IOC discussed the new dates for the Games, postponed until no later than the summer of 2021 amid growing international concern over the coronavirus pandemic, with National Olympic Committees (NOCs) today.

The timing of the Games is the most pressing issue for a task force established by the IOC and Tokyo 2020 to navigate the complicated challenges stemming from the postponement.

Confirming the exact dates for the first Olympic Games to be postponed in history will also pave the way for other key areas to be addressed, including venues and qualification.

IOC President Thomas Bach said earlier this week that there are “thousands” of questions following the decision to delay the Games, none of which can be answered until the new dates are set.

insidethegames understands the majority of the 33 Federations on the Tokyo 2020 programme prefer the rearranged Games to be staged between July and August, although some suggested dates in April and May.

The prospect of a spring Olympics in Japan has been mooted and while this would require rescheduling of other sporting events, it potentially could avoid the high summer temperatures in Tokyo, which had forced organisers to invest in heat countermeasures for the Games.

Insidethegames has been told some Federations raised concern over high temperatures in the Japanese capital when discussing the possibility of rescheduling the Games for a similar window as had been planned this year.

IOC member John Coates, head of the Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020, has suggested the organisation is working with Federations to potentially find a window in July and August next year.

Coates told Insidethegames that he expected a recommendation on the precise timing of the Games to be put to the IOC Executive Board by the end of April.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said the organisation “looks forward to learning the exact date of the Games”.

“Our athletes have reacted extremely well to the postponement of the Games and having a date to work towards will allow them to carry out the meticulous planning and the training required for an Olympic Games performance,” Smith added.

Bach had previously sent a letter to the entire IOC membership, detailing the process which led to the announcement of a delay until 2021 because of the COVID-19 outbreak on Tuesday (March 24).

“In light of this situation, the IOC had to take decisions quickly, sometimes even every day, responding to a constantly evolving environment,” Bach wrote.

“I hope I can count on your understanding that because of the fast-moving developments, we could not always give you all the background information on a timely basis.”

Forward Willian, meanwhile, has been given permission by the club to return to Brazil to link up with his family.

“This situation has obviously been changing frequently from the start and it is all new ground,” the Chelsea boss said.

“I’ve just let them know that I am there for them individually because these are tough times whether it’s emotionally, physically everything we have to be there for the players.

“Motivation can be slightly put to the side. I think the motivation at the moment for everyone is how their families are, how their relatives are, how we all see the outside world, and sometimes the realisation probably that there are things which are a lot more important than football.

“However much we love Chelsea and are fortunate to do our jobs, this has certainly hit home for that.

“For me, my message to the players has always been look after your family at this time.

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