In this May 17, 2021, demonstrators protest against the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The IOC and Tokyo Olympic organizers run into some of the strongest medical-community opposition so far with the games set to open in just over eight weeks. 

As demand grows to cancel Tokyo Olympics, who has the power to call it off?

According to the latest polls, 83% of people in Japan think the Games should be postponed or scrapped entirely. But there’s been a lack of clarity about who gets to make that decision.

The World

In this May 17, 2021, demonstrators protest against the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The IOC and Tokyo Olympic organizers run into some of the strongest medical-community opposition so far with the games set to open in just over eight weeks. 

Koji Sasahara/AP

With the Tokyo Summer Olympics opening ceremony about 60 days away, calls to cancel the Games are getting louder.  

The 6,000-member Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association called for the Olympics to be canceled in a letter sent last week to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa, and Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the organizing committee. Much of Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka, is under a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Momentum builds for Japan to pass LGBTQ equality act before Tokyo Olympics

“We believe the correct choice is to cancel an event that has the possibility of increasing the numbers of infected people and deaths."

Tokyo Medical Practiioners' Assocation, joint letter

“We believe the correct choice is to cancel an event that has the possibility of increasing the numbers of infected people and deaths,” the letter said.

According to the latest polls, 83% of people in Japan think the Games should be postponed or scrapped entirely. But there’s been a lack of clarity on who gets to make that decision. 

The laundry list of groups involved in organizing this summer’s Olympics — the International Olympic  Committee, the Japanese Olympic Committee, the Tokyo Organizing Committee and the Japanese government — are bound together by the Olympic host contract.

Should the Games get canceled, the financial losses could be dramatic for everyone involved. Nearly 75% of The International Olympic Committee's funding comes from broadcasting rights. And insurers are facing an estimated $2 to 3 billion loss if there is a cancelation.

The World’s Bianca Hillier reports on who has the power to call the games off. 

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