Australia tells athletes to prepare for 2021 Olympics

IOC will decide whether to cancel Olympics over the next 4 weeks (0:57)

Michele Steele says the International Olympic Committee is setting a four-week deadline to make a decision on whether to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games. (0:57)

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has told the nation's athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Olympics to be held in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC's announcement of a potential postponement.

AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said athletes needed certainty.

"We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programs. With travel and other restrictions, this becomes untenable," he said.

"The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport. This decision reflects those principles. We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty."

Ian Chesterman, the Australian Team Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Games, said the athletes have all been told of the latest developments.

"It's clear the games can't be held in July. Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them," he said. "They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world. That has been a consistent message to me.

"While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control. We are aware that for many such a postponement will present a range of new issues. But when the world does come together at the Tokyo Olympic Games, they can be a true celebration of sport and humanity."

It comes as Canada's Olympic committee announced it won't send athletes to the Olympics in Tokyo unless the games are postponed by one year because of the coronavirus pandemic.