A Professor of Global Public Health based in the United Kingdom has said it is "unrealistic" for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to go ahead in the summer of 2021 unless a coronavirus vaccine has been found by then.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been rearranged for the summer of 2021, as a result of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 2.23 million people around the world.
Devi Sridhar, a Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said she believed the Games could only go ahead on the new dates if a vaccine for the disease was found in time.
"I had thought a vaccine would be a year or a year and a half away but we're hearing possibly this could come sooner," Sridhar said, as reported by BBC Sport.
"If we do get a vaccine within the next year then actually I think that the Olympics is realistic.
"The vaccine will be the game-changer - provided it is effective, affordable and available.
"If we don't get a scientific breakthrough then I think that [Tokyo 2020} looks very unrealistic.
"I think they've made the right decision in saying 'we are going to put it back a year and re-evaluate'.
Painful news to sports for next year is that even when lockdown measures are relaxed & countries rely on more nuanced strategies, bringing together thousands of people from around the world can become super-spreading events that upset fragile balance of health, economy & society— Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) April 17, 2020
"I think that is the only way you can deal with this situation - to take stock, to be hopeful, to support our scientific community and our NHS community to do what they can, because science in the long-term is going to be the way we get out of this."
Sridhar, who was born in the United States, is a Professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where she holds a Personal Chair in Global Public Health, in recognition of her high levels of achievement in the field.
Sridhar is a founding director of the Global Health Governance Programme, and co-chairs an independent panel on the global response to ebola.
Her comments come after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 announced the formation of a joint steering committee to work on delivering the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021.
The Tokyo Olympics are due to take place from July 23 to August 8 2021 with the Tokyo Paralympics scheduled from August 24 to September 5 2021.
A state of emergency is currently declared in Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this was extended nationwide yesterday through to May 6.
The pandemic has infected more than 2.23 million people worldwide with more than 153,000 fatalities.