Tokyo Olympics 2020: Ticket holders in limbo over possibility of refund as coronavirus pandemic threatens Games cancellation
Organisers have repeatedly said the Olympics will go ahead as scheduled but with the rapid spread of the coronavirus bringing the sports world to a standstill, fears are growing the Games may be cancelled or postponed
Tokyo: Holders of coveted tickets for the Tokyo Olympics are anxiously awaiting word on whether the Games will go ahead as planned, with a media report that briefs might not be refundable in case of a cancellation stirring fears they may be left out of pocket.
Tickets have been snapped up in Japan, with over three million sold during the first domestic lottery last May. Hot demand for later sales also left many potential buyers disappointed.
Organisers have repeatedly said the 24 July to 9 August Games will go ahead as scheduled but with the rapid spread of the coronavirus bringing the sports world to a virtual standstill, fears are growing the Olympics may be cancelled or postponed.
On Wednesday, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that tickets might not be refundable if the Olympics were to be cancelled, citing Olympic organisers and contractual details connected to the tickets.
Should holding the Olympics be prevented due to a number of “force majeure” incidents ranging from disasters to war and “states of emergency connected to public health,” organisers were not to be held responsible, the Asahi added.
The report prompted a flood of comments on social media, making it one of the top trending Twitter topics in Japan.
“What - no refunds if it’s cancelled? Are you kidding me?” wrote commenter may_lulu.
Another lamented: “I’ll just bid goodbye to that 100,000 yen ($933.97).”
Tokyo 2020 organisers did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
When asked about the issue of refunds on 11 March they said, “Tokyo 2020 has never discussed cancelling or postponing the Games. Preparations for the Games are continuing as planned.”
Many ticket holders appeared resigned.
“I’ve almost given up on the Olympics,” said Toshikazu Moriwaki, a 66-year-old retired banker who paid roughly 110,000 yen for four tickets but said he believed he would get a refund.
“I really want to watch the game but above all, I want to have the Olympics in Tokyo, even delayed. No cancellation please.”
Liz Shek-Noble, an Australian resident of Tokyo, has tickets to diving and Paralympic fencing.
“I am not optimistic about the likelihood of getting a refund in the event that the Olympics and Paralympics are cancelled,” she said.
“In the event that they are postponed, I hope that those who have tickets are given the choice of attending their events on a new date or being partially or fully refunded.”
And some continued to hope.
“First, I want to know if the Games are on or not before worrying about a refund,” said a Korean woman living in Japan who holds two tickets to see golf.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the events that we luckily got tickets for.”
Olympic and Japanese officials have staunchly defended the Games, which are being held in a strict biosecure "bubble" with daily testing. Eighty percent of athletes at the Games have been vaccinated.
Eight days before the opening ceremony on 23 July, it was unclear if the athlete must miss their event.
Gauff, who reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at this year's French Open, became the latest tennis standout and US athlete to miss the Olympics.