Coronavirus: With Games postponement looming, Olympics ticket holders are on edge

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Holders of tickets for the Tokyo Olympics face an anxious wait as the future of the Games hangs in the balance, following media reports they might not get a refund in case of a postponement or cancellation.

Tokyo 2020 have not confirmed how many tickets have been sold but in the bidding process, organisers said over seven million seats would be available. All domestic tickets for the Olympics have been sold, according to organisers.

In the most recent Games budget from December 2019, organisers said US$800 million (S$1.16 billion) had been raised through ticket sales.

Now, with the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers saying postponement is being considered in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, ticket holders are worried about what this means for them.

Last week, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported tickets might not be refundable, citing Olympic organisers and contractual details connected to the tickets.

Kokoro Yamada has two tickets for the closing ceremony, which have cost her 440,000 yen (S$5,800). She turns 30 the day after the Games closing ceremony on Aug 9 and the tickets were a present to herself.

“In case of postponement, it is a little disappointing because the closing ceremony is the day before my birthday… so I was thinking it would be a very special day,” she said.

Yamada said she has read through the tickets terms and conditions several times but still cannot work out what postponement would mean.

When previously contacted about ticket refunds, Tokyo 2020 organisers said they were monitoring the situation.

“The terms and conditions do not state that ‘tickets cannot be refunded’, so the article is not accurate,” Tokyo 2020 organisers said.

Keiko Morita has spent approximately 2 million yen on tickets, including for the opening ceremony.

Despite being worried over the inconvenience postponement would cause her, Morita can go next year and understands the world is going through an unprecedented crisis.

“Of course it would be disappointing… but of course this crisis is happening all over the world,” said Morita, who lives in Tokyo. “It is not just about me and about the Olympics. There are many people in pain so we must accept it.”

Others are less certain they will be able to attend a rearranged Games.

“I am worried about what I should do. I adjusted my schedule and bought them,” said businesswoman Manari Osaki. “If the Olympic Games are postponed, it will mess up my plans and I may not be able to go see the Games.”

The IOC has given itself a deadline of four weeks to decide on the fate of the Tokyo 2020 Games, although the torch relay is scheduled to begin on Thursday.

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