by Everen T. Brown
Last week’s simple and bold IOC press release stating the Games will take place "regardless" is not enough for people who have money invested in tickets, hotels and airfare.
Many people have had money tied up for two years in these purchases. They deserve answers.
Tickets – The IOC and Tokyo organizers need to reassure the ticket holders there will be refunds in case of a cancellation or if there are limited or no spectators.
Over the last two years, more than $800 million of Olympic tickets have been sold. But the ticket contract does not specifically address refunds in any of these cases. More transparency is required so the public will know their investment in these tickets is protected and that refunds would be forthcoming in any event.
Many of those who asked for ticket refunds last year are still waiting to receive them months later. All of them had to forfeit a 20 percent "handling fee" in order to get the bulk of their money back. Will a "handling fee" be imposed in the event of any changes this year?
Hotels – Many hotel reservations for the "Olympic period" required payment in full at the time of booking and are non-refundable.
These rooms come with hefty price tags. Last year when the Games were postponed, hotels and online booking engines gave refunds or allowed people to rebook for this year. If needed - will that happen again?
This year the topic of nonrefundable hotel reservations brings many questions.
Does Olympic sponsor Airbnb have a refund policy in place for Games-time reservations?
If spectators are not allowed – will Tokyo hotels give refunds?
If spectators are limited – will they give refunds to the people who cannot attend?
If the Games are cancelled outright – will they give full refunds?
I contacted several hotels in Tokyo to find the answers to the above questions and the answer is simply "no refunds".
Olympic fans would be severely disappointed to lose this hotel money in case the IOC and Tokyo 2020 change attendance requirements. The IOC, Tokyo 2020 and/or the Japanese Government need to do something to make sure these people do not lose their money.
Airfare – Last year many airlines extended the booking period but did not give refunds.
Consumers were happy to not lose their money and have the ability to use the future credit. If major Olympic changes come along again, how friendly will the airlines’ policies be this year?
Zika scared away many fans from Rio 2016 and unfortunately the coronavirus will make its mark on Tokyo. The IOC and Tokyo 2020 must remember that the fans are important stakeholders in the Olympic movements’ future success.
Tokyo 2020 and the IOC need to not just reassure fans that the Games will take place, they need to make bold moves to ensure Olympic fans’ monetary investments will be protected in case of changes that might lock them out of attending.
Homepage photo: Tokyo 2020
Everen T. Brown is an Olympic superfan with 15 Olympiads under his belt! His passion for writing, 360-degree panoramic photography and the Games make for colorful Olympic commentary and insight.