Sheffield hopes to steel the games.
Senior Government figures were due to meet Lamine Diack, the all-powerful head of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), to try to persuade him to accept Sheffield as an alternative.
It follows the decision last night to scrap plans to hold the Championships at Picketts Lock in north-east London on the grounds of cost - a total of pounds 220m would have been needed - and the timescale involved.
Today's meeting in London involves IAAF president Diack, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, Sports Minister Richard Caborn, UK Athletics chief executive David Moorcroft and Government troubleshooter Patrick Carter.
IAAF spokesman Claudio Reineri held out little hope for Sheffield's chances, saying:
"I don't think London can be replaced automatically with another city in Great Britain."