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 they might not be refundable in case of a cancelation stirring fears they might be left out of pocket.
Tickets have been snapped up in Japan, with more than 3 million sold in the first domestic lottery in May last year. Demand for later sales also left many disappointed.
Organizers have repeatedly said that the July 24 to Aug. 9 Games would go ahead as scheduled, but with the rapid spread of COVID-19 bringing the sports world to a virtual standstill, fears are growing that the Olympics might be canceled or postponed.
On Wednesday, the Asahi Shimbun reported that tickets might not be refundable if the Olympics were to be canceled, citing organizers and contractual details connected to the tickets.
Should holding the Olympics be prevented due to force majeure incidents, ranging from disasters to war and “states of emergency connected to public health,” organizers would not be held responsible, the newspaper said.
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 canceled? Are you kidding me?” one Twitter user said, while another lamented: “I’ll just bid goodbye to that 100,000 yen [US$917].”
Tokyo Games organizers said in a statement that they would monitor the situation, but that neither they nor the International Olympic Committee were thinking of canceling the Games and were making every preparation to ensure they open on time on July 24.
“The terms and conditions do not state that ‘tickets cannot be refunded,’ so the article is not accurate,” they added.
Many ticket holders appeared resigned.
“I’ve almost given up on the Olympics,” said Toshikazu Moriwaki, a 66-year-old retired banker who paid about ￥110,000 for four tickets, but added that he believed he would get a refund.
“I want to watch the Games, but above all, I want to have the Olympics in Tokyo, even delayed. No cancelation please,” he said.
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 canceled,” 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,” she added.
Others continued to hope.
“First, I want to know if the Games are on or not before worrying about a refund,” said a South 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.”
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