BY RYUSEI TAKAHASHI, STAFF WRITER
Some 910,000 people — or about a quarter of all domestic ticket holders — will lose their tickets to this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics after the results of a lottery are announced in early July, the Tokyo Organising Committee said Wednesday.
Ticket holders will be reduced to a total of 2.72 million, organizers said, and the results of the lottery will be announced on July 6 through the organizing committee’s ticket purchasing site.
“It’s regrettable that we have no choice but to ask ticket holders to partake in another lottery,” Tokyo 2020 ticketing director Hidenori Suzuki said during a news conference on Wednesday.
The move follows a decision earlier this week to limit spectator attendance at competition venues. But if COVID-19 restrictions — either a state of emergency or quasi-emergency measures — are imposed in Tokyo or other prefectures where venues are located, spectator attendance could be reduced further, which could trigger yet another lottery.
Currently, projected attendance for just over 10% of competitive events is above the spectator cap and will be subject to the lottery. New tickets will not be sold.
Prior to a number of reimbursements in December, organizers had sold 900,000 tickets overseas and more than 3.6 million in Japan.
Ticket sales were expected to be one of the biggest sources of income from the Summer Games for the Tokyo Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the central government — with the reliance on that revenue having grown even more after the postponement of the games in March 2020 unleashed a wave of additional costs.
The banning of all overseas spectators earlier this year dealt a serious blow to the ¥90 billion expected from ticket sales, and the reduction in domestic fans will bring those earnings “below half” of original estimates, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said Monday.
Tokyo Games minister Tamayo Marukawa raised eyebrows in May when she said the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will pay for the Tokyo Organising Committee’s losses, and the central government will make up for what the capital can’t pay.
“Further discussions will be necessary,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said in response to Marukawa’s statement.
On Wednesday, organizers also revealed guidelines for domestic fans who will be watching the games in person.
Spectators will not be allowed to purchase or carry in alcoholic drinks at venues, a backtrack from recent comments by Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto in which she hinted at the possibility of allowing alcohol.
While fans weren’t explicitly discouraged from traveling across prefectural borders to attend the games, they were asked to avoid spending the night or eating anywhere besides their own residence as part of a greater effort to minimize congestion triggered by the movement of a large number of people.
“It’s not just about setting rules for spectators inside venues,” Suzuki said. “It’s about preventing congestion and large crowds outside venues as well.”
Organizers announced Monday that spectators at the Tokyo Games will be limited to 50% capacity or 10,000 fans per venue — whichever figure is lower — while 20,000 will be allowed at the opening ceremony on July 23.
Fans will be required to wear masks at all times and asked to refrain from cheering, high-fiving or linking arms with others.
Infectious disease experts advising the central government have emphasized the importance of maintaining strict protocols and preventing mass gatherings outside venues as well, including at live-viewing sites and through congestion caused by spectators traveling to and from competitions.
Live-viewing sites in the Tokyo metropolitan area — which includes the capital, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama — will be canceled, and several will be used as temporary vaccination sites.