Tokyo Olympics will be the most pricey ever

TOKYO • Having trouble getting tickets for next year's Tokyo Olympics?

That is no problem if you have US$60,000 (S$83,210) to spare.

Organisers are offering high-end hospitality packages to Japan residents with prices reaching 6.35 million yen, or about US$60,000.

This is good for the opening and closing ceremony, nine days of track and field action with luxury seating and sumptuous dining. Low-end packages dip down to about US$1,500 for one session at a less popular event.

Tokyo is shaping up as a very pricey Olympics. Ticket demand is unprecedented and hotel rates are soaring.

And getting here will be costly, particularly for people travelling from the Americas and Europe.

"I don't know if I can afford to go to the Olympics," Brant Feldman, a Los Angeles-based sports agent who attended seven straight Olympics, said. "For the average family right now to head to the Olympics, it's going to be the most expensive in history."

Organisers say the luxurious hospitality packages are an "opportunity for family, friends and business contacts" to enjoy the Games.

They are targeted at the wealthy and executives who treat the Olympics as a venue for doing business and schmoozing with sports as an alluring sideshow.

In their words, here is what is included with the tickets: Specially selected champagne, sake and beers, gourmet dining menu prepared by top international chefs, fine wines chosen by a sommelier, elegant commemorative souvenir VIP access pass, first-class personal service capable of dealing with any request, event host and celebrity guests appearances.

In total, organisers say there are 7.8 million tickets for the Olympics and they hope to earn US$800 million from ticket sales. They estimate between 70 and 80 per cent will go to the general public in Japan. The remaining tickets are sold abroad, or go to sponsors, national Olympic committees, and sports federations.

There is also an old-fashioned way for residents of Japan to get scarce tickets: a so-called "second-chance" lottery that closed on Monday. Results will be announced next month, and another lottery for residents will be held in autumn.

For now, those living outside Japan must go through authorised ticket resellers, who have been deluged with unprecedented demand.

They also offer high-end packages and are allowed to add on a 20 per cent service charge. And many of the best tickets are tied to expensive hotels.

A random search of well-known hotel booking sites found prices for most three-to four-star hotels at between US$1,000 and US$1,500 a night, with few available.

Even Japan's famous capsule hotels - or sleep pods - will cost more, with prices up three or four times on booking sites.

Organisers said in a statement that they are working with "the government and the accommodation industry and travel industry in order to control prices".

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 their own.

"If your son or daughter qualifies for the Olympics in 2020, I don't 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.

Ken Hanscom, a ticketing expert who runs Los Angeles-based TicketManager, said: "This is the biggest (Olympic) demand ever - by far."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2019, with the headline 'Tokyo Olympics will be the most pricey ever'. Print Edition | Subscribe