Tokyo 2021 Olympics

Everything You Need to Know About the Tokyo 2021 Olympics

Although it should technically be called “Tokyo 2021,” on account of the fact that it will now take place…well, in 2021, the Tokyo Olympics have retained their “Tokyo 2020” moniker. I wish the weirdness of the delayed Japan games ended there.

Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. Assuming the Tokyo games do end up happening (SPOILER ALERT: This is far from a sure bet), they will be wrought with uncertainty and complication, likely right up until July 23, 2021.

Continue reading to learn about the past and present of the Tokyo 2021 debacle, and why I’m not personally convinced a future exists for unluckiest Olympics in history.

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The Postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

For many weeks at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese government insisted the games was proceed as originally scheduled. It wasn’t until the beginning of April 2020 that Japan began to face down the reality of a Tokyo 2021 Olympics. This coincided with a broad closure of the Japanese border that is ongoing as of September 2020, and makes it a near-certainty that tourists will not enter Japan again before 2021.

Postponing the Olympics for a year seemed like a long delay all those months ago, but in fact it buys the governments of Japan and Tokyo (not to mention the IOC) very little time in the grand scheme of things. Even if one or more successful Covid-19 vaccines has been rolled out by July of 2021, huge swathes of the world’s population (and even of Japan’s own) could still be waiting to be immunized by the time the opening ceremony begins, if it ever does.


FAQ About the Tokyo 2021 Olympics

Are the 2020 Olympics being held?

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed to begin on July 23, 2021, as of September 2020. It’s possible that the Olympics will be canceled outright, however. A decision is expected by the end of December 2020.

How much will it cost to go to the Tokyo Olympics?

Ticket prices for individual Tokyo 2021 Olympics events vary greatly. As far as how much a trip to Japan to see the Olympics will cost? Even without Olympics tickets, two weeks in Japan will cost a minimum of 3,000 USD per person, not including airfare.

Are Tokyo 2020 tickets sold out?

Many people have requested refunds of their tickets in the wake of the Olympic postponement, so some tickets are still available for Tokyo 2021. Visit this official website to browse a list of official ticket resellers by country.

Is Tokyo ready for 2020 Olympics?

The leadership and infrastructure might be able to cope with Tokyo 2021, but much of the population would prefer if the games did not take place. A poll in late June 2020 found that 51.7% of Tokyoites want the Tokyo Olympics canceled.

Is the Olympics still happening?

If I were a betting man, I would bet against the Tokyo Olympics taking place. Between public sentiment and the likelihood that the coronavirus pandemic will be raging well into 2021, an outright Tokyo Olympic cancellation seems more likely than not.

How to Know if the Tokyo Olympics Will Be Canceled

The good news is that we won’t have to wait long to know whether the delayed games will go on. The IOC has stated it will make its final determination in December 2021. In the meantime, here are some indicators I’m looking for:

  • Have any Covid-19 vaccines received approval from the US FDA? In particular, I’m paying attention to the partnership between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, whose vaccine the Japanese government has pre-purchased.
  • Is Japan’s border still totally closed? I’ll explain more about why this matters in a second, but if Japan’s border is not significantly more open in December than it was in August or September, the Olympics may well be canceled.
  • What’s the mood on the ground in Tokyo? If Japanese authorities remain unable to control the spread of Covid-19, it could further sour the public mood on the Olympics, and lower approval numbers of the officials promoting them.
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Will Japan’s Border Even Be Open in 2021?

I’ve been a passionate advocate for the end of the #JapanTravelBan—and not just because of my personal and professional interests in travel to Japan resuming. The country’s heavily tourism-dependent economy was fragile even before coronavirus; I’m not sure it can withstand both a year without tourists and an Olympic cancellation. Unfortunately, re-opening the border is occurring in a slow, piecemeal fashion. They’re doing it country-by-country, and only for a dew dozen travelers at a time!

If the Olympics are to take place next July, the Japanese border will need to be fully re-opened by then—can you imagine an international sports event with spectators of just one nationality? If Japan’s hopes to Covid-proof its ports of entry by then, they will need to start now. If, by the end of 2020, the Japanese border is not fully open to any person willing to test and quarantine, I can’t see the Tokyo 2021 Olympics taking place.

The Bottom Line

Tokyo 2021, if it ends up happening, will be the most unusual Olympic games in history. That’s a big “if,” of course, and not just due to the question mark of the never-ending coronavirus pandemic. Japan’s border remained largely closed a year out from the opening ceremony, and moves to re-open it have proven as perilously slow as they have of limited impact to the vast majority of travels. When you couple this with an inconvenient on-the-ground truth—that the majority of Tokyo citizens do not want the games to move forward any longer—the future of 2021’s “Tokyo 2020” Olympics becomes very uncertain indeed. All the more reason to hire a professional who can absorb all the nonsense to plan your 2021 trip to Japan!