What to do if you have tickets to the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics

In this tip last week, we shared how the major pro sports leagues in the U.S. are making full games available to stream for free while their seasons are on hold. Almost without exception, major sporting events are off the calendar until further notice.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were set to start in July, have also been postponed. The IOC announced today that the new dates will be July 23-August 8, 2021, with the Paralympics to follow August 24-September 5, 2021. Because of what the Olympics represent and how special they are (I went to the London games in 2012), that’s a particularly big deal. This is actually the first time the Olympics have been been postponed since 1896 (the games were canceled outright during WWI and WWII). More than five million tickets have reportedly been sold to Olympic events this summer, to events that will no longer take place on the originally scheduled dates. So what do you do if you’ve planned a trip to attend the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

Tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

If you purchased tickets through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics website, the official position is the following:

  • “In principle, Games tickets that are already purchased will be valid for a new date.
  • Your tickets will be refunded if you will not be able to visit the venue on a new date and wish to receive a refund.
  • In case we cannot secure your place for a new date due to the change in schedule and/or venue, your tickets will be refunded.
  • Previously, we planned to deliver the Games tickets from June, but we have decided to suspend delivery for now.

“Tickets that have been already purchased will be handled in line with the above principles. We will make a further announcement once the details of the Games, such as the dates, are decided. If you purchased a ticket through The NOC, NPC or Authorised Ticket Resellers from each country/territory, please contact them directly.”

But what if you didn’t buy tickets directly from the source? In a post on the subject, Newsweek wrote last week that “Olympic tickets in the U.S. are sold by CoSport, on whose website tickets for selected events remained available as usual at the time of writing. On its website, CoSport states that the purchaser ‘may apply for a refund to the company [CoSport] under the parameters outlined in the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games Terms and Conditions.'”

In that story Newsweek cited “Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper [quoting] members of Tokyo’s organizing committee as saying tickets may not be refundable, due to a provision in the [organizing committee’s] Terms and Conditions for purchasing the tickets”—a force majeure (“act of God”) clause. Yet a week later, the official site lays out in pretty clear language that refunds can be expected according to the terms above. So at this point, if you can’t or don’t want to attend in 2021, it’s reasonable to expect a refund. The best play is likely to wait for more information as the new Olympic dates were announced just hours ago. If you’d prefer to take action right away, however, you can make an inquiry by email here.

Flights to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Getting flights to Japan refunded is a different story. If you booked your flights and tickets as part of a 2020 Tokyo Olympics package, you should contact your travel booker. If you booked your flights separately, check out this post I just wrote: A Trick to Get Your Money Back From Airlines That Canceled Your Flight.

More Japan

With or without the Olympics, Japan is a wonderful destination. When the COVID-19 pandemic finally breaks and it’s once again safe to travel, there will be plenty of reasons to consider visiting. Here are some of our best stories on Japan:


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4 Comments On "What to Do If You Have Tickets to the Postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics"

    You mentioned refund policies, but didn’t mention what Travel Insurance will cover. Since Air New Zealand is discontinuing their LAX-LHR service in October, and I want to reschedule a May trip for next May, will my Allianz annual policy cover my ticket cost if Air New Zealand wont refund it? Since I purchased through CheapO air, do the travel agencies have any responsibility for refunds?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      If Air NZ canceled your flight they have to refund it but because you booked through a 3rd party you need to go through them. Let us know what happens.

  2. Olympic Spectator Hopeful|

    I have tickets and an Airbnb booked for the Olympics 2020 for over a year before the pandemic came and poo-pooed on all my efforts and plans. Fortunately, Airbnb has finally updated its coverage to include the olympic 2020 dates (only credit refund for now, cash refund requires documentation).

    My new dilemma is whether I want to turn around and book the same airbnb property for the Olympics 2021. On one hand- I am worried the 2121 event may be postponed or canceled. On the other hand- I am worried of losing this property if I don’t book it well in advance. We are a group of 6 and Airbnb seemed more economical than individual hotel rooms. I have looked into travel insurance, and most will not cover COVID henceforth while the “cancel for any reason” insurance will only cover 75% of the loss.

    Any advice on what you would do in booking lodging for the Olympics 2021 and how to anticipate changes and be covered for potential cancellation? Thank you.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      That’s a good question and I would book if Airbnb agrees to refund your money if the games don’t happen or you get a travel insurance policy that covers it. If money is tight then I wouldn’t risk it

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