Four-time Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent believes it is "folly" for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to insist the Tokyo Games will go ahead.
IOC chairman Thomas Bach said on Tuesday that starting on schedule on July 24 remains the organisation's goal, despite much of the sporting calendar being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think it's the IOC saying we must try and get through if we can, which I have a degree of sympathy with, it just runs counter to what every health authority and government is saying around the world," Pinsent told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"We've seen lockdowns across Europe and across Asia at different timescales but this is coming and the idea that the Olympics are going to carry on regardless I think is folly.
"On a global front we have other priorities and I think the Olympics should at the very least be saying we should postpone or indeed just cancel at this stage and we'll talk about postponement later on.
"I just don't think there's much of a choice at this stage. For much of the European countries as well Asian countries, organised sport in any meaningful way has ceased and that's from government advice.
"I don't see there's any way forward for an Olympic athlete to train effectively even as an individual but particularly in a team environment.
"I just think it's unfair actually, I think it's unfair almost for the Olympics to say we're going to carry on, the Olympics are still happening, we are committed to the Olympics in July, because there are two big forces in an Olympic athlete's life, which is the Olympics and everything else and those two things are pulling in different directions at this moment and it's very very difficult for them individually when they've got that tension in their own heads."
Asked why he felt the IOC was insisting the Games would go ahead, Pinsent added: "I think they feel a responsibility to Tokyo.
"We know having hosted in 2012 that seven-year build up is a crescendo of energy and concentration and effort on behalf of the city and on behalf of the nation and the government, everybody takes a pride in it.
"I know that Tokyo have done exactly the same and actually the financial stakes are much higher for the host city than they are for the IOC."
Pinsent believes the IOC should follow the lead of other sporting organisations which have suspended matches or tournaments in order to give themselves time to assess the long-term situation.
"If you had a decision tree, the first one is are the Olympics going to carry on in Tokyo in July as planned and to me that very soon is going to be a no, a firm no," the 49-year-old added.
"The decision whether to reinstate it in Tokyo, whether it's later in the year or next year or delay by two or four years, is a decision that does not have to happen now. That can take time.
"For an Olympic athlete, ideally you'd want 12 months' notice and so you could say now, 'we're really sorry, the Olympics is not going to happen as planned in July, we are going to assess the situation and announce what's going to happen' which is where most other sports have got to with this."
World Athletics president Lord Coe admits that the Games could logistically be held in September and October, but believes a decision does not need to be taken now.
"That is possible, anything is possible at the moment," Coe, who was chairman of the London 2012 Games organiser Locog, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"But I think the position that sport has certainly taken, and it was certainly the temperature of the room in the conversation I had the other day with the IOC and our other federations, is that nobody is saying we will be going to the Games come what may.
"And it may be that over the course of changing events, and they're changing by the hour, that that is something that we have to confront. But it isn't a decision that has to be made at this moment."
Asked if the Olympics could be delayed to 2021, Coe added: "That seems on the surface of it an easy proposition, but member federations actually avoid Olympic years often to have their world championships.
"Athletics has its world championships at exactly those dates that you're talking about in 2021 in the United States (August 6-15) so it's not quite as easy as just saying we'll move one down.
"The European football championships have moved to next year, that too would clash. The sporting calendar is a very complicated matrix, it's not that simple to just simply say we'll ease one event from one year to the next.
"We have done that with our own world indoor championships but that doesn't clash with anything else at the same time."
As for the prospect of combining the Olympics and the World Championships next year, Coe said: "It would be ridiculous of me to say anything is ruled out at the moment.
"We are living in an environment where everything is changing very quickly, the whole world wants clarity, that's just simply not possible at the moment and we're no different from any other sector."