Where EAST meets the Northwest
OVERPRICED OLYMPICS. A man rides a bicycle (top photo) past sailboats at
Enoshima Yacht Harbor, a venue for sailing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, on
Enoshima Island in Fujisawa, west of Tokyo. In the bottom photo, a restaurant
worker on Enoshima Island cooks squid. Tokyo is shaping up as a very pricey
Olympics, with the cost of tickets, hotels, and travel soaring. (AP Photos/Jae
From The Asian Reporter, V29, #17 (September 2, 2019), page 9.
Want Tokyo Olympic tickets? No problem if you have $60,000
By Stephen Wade
The Associated Press
TOKYO ó Having trouble getting tickets for next yearís Tokyo Olympics?
Thatís no problem if you have $60,000 to spare.
Tokyo Olympic organizers are offering high-end hospitality packages to Japan
residents with prices soaring to 6.35 million yen ó about $60,000. This is good
for the opening and closing ceremony, nine days of track and field with luxury
seating, and sumptuous dining. Low-end packages dip down to about $1,500 for one
session at a less popular event.
Tokyo is shaping up as a very pricey Olympics.
Ticket demand is unprecedented, so unofficial re-selling likely will
flourish. Hotel rates are soaring. And getting here will be costly, particularly
for people travelling from the Americas and Europe.
"I donít know if I can afford to go to the Olympics," Brant Feldman, a Los
Angeles-based sports agent, told The Associated Press. Heís attended seven
straight Olympics and represents American and Canadian athletes for AGM Sports.
"For the average family right now to head to the Olympics, itís going to be the
most expensive in history."
Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics say the luxurious hospitality packages
are an "opportunity for family, friends, and business contacts" to enjoy the
games. In the words of organizers, hereís whatís included with the tickets:
- specially selected champagne, sakť, and beers
- gourmet dining menu prepared by top international chefs
- fine wines chosen by our sommelier
- elegant commemorative souvenir VIP access pass
- first-class personal service capable of dealing with any request
- event host and celebrity guests appearances
Hospitality packages, of course, are aimed at the wealthy, targeting
executives who treat the Olympics as a venue for doing business and schmoozing
with sports as an alluring sideshow.
Thereís also an old-fashioned way for residents of Japan to get scarce
tickets: a so-called "second-chance" lottery that is now closed. Results will be
announced this month, and another lottery for Japan residents will be held in
For now, those living outside Japan must go through Authorized Ticket
Resellers, which are deluged with unprecedented demand. They also offer high-end
packages and are allowed to tack on a 20% service charge to each ticket. And
many of the best tickets are tied to expensive hotels.
A random search of well-known hotel booking sites by AP found prices for most
3- and 4-star hotels between $1,000 and 1,500 per night with few available.
There have been complaints that many hotels are cancelling previous reservations
to secure the markup.
Even Japanís famous capsule hotels ó or sleep pods ó will cost more to crawl
inside with prices up three or four times on booking sites.
In a statement to AP, Tokyo organizers said they are working with "the
government and the accommodation industry and travel industry in order to
Quoting a government report, organizers say there are 300,000 rooms "in
different classes" in Tokyo and in neighboring prefectures.
Olympic athletes are guaranteed housing and have access to a few tickets for
event sessions in which they participate. After that, family and friends are on
"If your son or daughter qualifies for the Olympics in 2020, I donít know how
any of those families are going to be able to afford the airline tickets, the
Airbnb, the hotels, or get the tickets," Feldman said.
Those planning to wait until the last minute to book rooms, which sometimes
become available because organizers typically overestimate the number of rooms
needed and the number of foreign visitors, could miss out.
It may not happen this time.
Tokyoís demand is driven partly by a giant metropolitan area of 35 million,
its safe streets, and long-time support for the Olympics.
Australia-based Kingdom Sports Group, an official reseller that deals
primarily with Asia and Africa, said on social media that Tokyo is "30 times
more popular" than London was in 2012. London is often seen as the benchmark for
Ken Hanscom, a ticketing expert who runs Los Angeles-based TicketManager,
told AP, "This is the biggest (Olympic) demand ever ó by far."
The big winner could be the Paralympics, which open a few weeks after the
Olympics close on August 9, 2020. The lottery in Japan for the Paralympics
recently opened with 2.3 million tickets available.
Just over 80% of Japan residents who applied got nothing in the first Olympic
ticket lottery earlier this year. Of those who landed tickets in June, many got
far fewer than they expected.
Organizers say 3.22 million tickets were sold in the first phase. Demand
appears to exceed supply by at least 10 times. Another 680,000 tickets are
available in this lottery, but only for those who were shut out the first time.
Tokyo organizers say there are 7.8 million tickets for the Olympics. They
estimate between 70% and 80% will go to the general public in Japan. The
difference between the larger and smaller percentage is 780,000 tickets, giving
organizers flexibility in how tickets are distributed.
The remaining tickets are sold abroad, or go to sponsors, national Olympic
committees, and sports federations.
Organizers hope to earn $800 million from ticket sales, a big chunk of income
for the privately funded, $5.6-billion operating budget.
A report released last year by the national governmentís Board of Audit said
Japan is likely to spend $25 billion overall to prepare the games. This is
public money, except for the operating budget. Organizers dispute the figure and
say itís about $12 billion, though what are Olympics costs ó and what are not ó
is subject to heated debate.
Back in 2013, Tokyo projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its
winning bid for the games.
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