A decision on whether the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games can go ahead should be made no earlier than March, according to a senior Organising Committee official.
Tokyo 2020 vice-president Toshiaki Endo said organisers should wait until then before deciding on the fate of the Games, delayed by one year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tokyo 2020 had previously remained silent on a possible timeframe on a decision, amid concerns the Games may be cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.
"Selecting athletes by around next March will be a major challenge," Endo, a former Olympics Minister, said.
"The Organising Committee will need to make some kind of a decision considering the situation at that time."
Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission chairman John Coates warned last month that organisers have "real problems" over the postponed Olympic Games as countries struggle to control the coronavirus crisis.
Coates said Tokyo 2020 would need to begin preparing for a "very different" Olympic Games if there were no signs of the novel coronavirus being eradicated by October, according to Australian media.
Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō subsequently downplayed the suggestions from Coates that October will be a pivotal month in assessing whether the Games can take place in 2021.
Concerns have also been raised over the the Games, scheduled to open in Tokyo on July 23, going ahead without a vaccine for COVID-19.
IOC President Thomas Bach has said Tokyo 2020 will be cancelled if the event cannot be held in 2021.
"There are still many estimates, and it is unclear what the new coronavirus situation will be next summer," Endo added.
"It is still too early to discuss whether to hold the Games or not."
Officials from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 have admitted the Games will be held differently compared to if the event had taken place as planned this year.
Japan is considering simplifying the format of the Games, with a reduced number of spectators and scaling back the Opening and Closing Ceremonies reportedly among the options being discussed.