Tokyo Decides on Foreign Spectators

(ATR) D-Day looms for overseas Olympic ticketholders for Tokyo Olympics.

(ATR) A decision on whether to allow foreign ticket holders at the Tokyo Olympics is now expected from a series of high level meetings March 20.

Sources familiar with planning for the virtual meetings tell Around the Rings that resolving the issue is the objective of the Saturday meetings.

The decision would be made at the first of the day’s meetings with the five key stakeholders in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The group includes Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko, Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Koike Yuriko, Olympics Minister Marukawa Tamayo, International Paralympic Commiittee President Andrew Parsons and IOC President Thomas Bach.

Following the stakeholders meeting, Bach will then preside over a meeting of the 15-member IOC Executive Board. A decision to bar foreign ticket holders from the Games in July and August comes with significant financial and operational consequences.

Overseas ticket sales for the postponed Olympics and Paralympics amount to an estimated $100 million, about 10 percent of total ticketing revenue. Most of those overseas ticket sales are handled through arrangements with each National Olympic Committee, a source of revenue many NOCs will sorely miss.

A ban on foreigners in Tokyo will put the brakes on hospitality programs for the dozen multi-national firms which are members of the IOC’s worldwide Olympic sponsorship program. Thousands of guests typically participate in the hospitality offerings for the Games. Cancellation of these activities will affect hotels, restaurants and other high end hospitality service providers in Japan.

A group of companies specializing in packaging and selling these services, such as CoSport in the U.S. and SportsMark in the U.K. will be left in the lurch.

Also worried are thousands of individual ticket buyers around the world who have already paid for tickets through the NOC authorized ticket resellers. Refunds for tickets are generally not honored by the agencies. But there has never been a situation such as Tokyo to force the question of refunds.

Japanese ticket buyers have been accommodated by the postponement, allowed to seek refunds if they wished.

Ever since the postponement of Tokyo 2020 was announced one year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, the question of how to handle spectators, foreign and domestic has remained unanswered up to the last minute.

Reports from Japan say that some domestic spectators may be admitted to the Olympics and Paralympics. But reducing capacity comes with the complication of deciding which ticketholders to admit and which to block. Many sessions were sold out in the early rounds of ticketing in Japan. Organizers will also need to make adjustments based on seats already turned back for refunds in Japan.

Homepage photo: Tokyo 2020

Reported by Ed Hula.