After the extraordinary year that was 2020, we’re relieved to be looking ahead to something that feels extraordinary in a positive sense. As we write, Japan is pushing forwards with holding its rescheduled summer games in 2021: a historic second attempt at the Summer Games.
With the Covid-19 vaccines making wider international travel tantalisingly possible in the very near future, we’re hopeful that the games will finally happen. However, there’s still a lot of uncertainty, so we want to update you about the hearsay, rumour and chatter from the Japanese media, blended with a few predictions from the Selective Asia team.
Although Japan tends to be very cautious in these matters, they’ve been exploring ways to restart both inbound and outbound travel more intently than many other destinations in Asia, and look to be gaining momentum earlier. The general feeling is that Japan will reopen its borders sometime in the spring, but some believe that, in reality, it’s more likely to be June. It’s looking like it might be the lead up to the Summer Games themselves that heralds the resumption of travel to Japan.
Relatively fresh from our experience arranging extensive itineraries in Japan for the Rugby World Cup, we were ready and excited to jump into the Summer Games too, before being temporarily stood down. We now find ourselves ready to start planning again, albeit with a strong dose of realism attached.
Japan will be deploying all of its immaculate efficiency, technology, intellect, beauty, and competitiveness to deliver one of the best ever summer games. That’s the target Japan has set itself, and it’s difficult to believe it will be anything else, so there’s a lot to be excited about. That opening ceremony is going to be majestic!
For those that don’t know, Japan is sports mad. Its sports stars are very highly paid and have premium celebrity status domestically, even when much less well-known outside of Japan. Don’t be fooled by any modest self-effacing spin - the nation is brimming with confidence and expecting to win. Though the atmosphere might feel frenetic at the events, behind the bluster there will be plenty of the country’s characteristic order and calm to make any visit run smoothly.
The Summer Games are always unifying, life affirming event, but surely after the worst global health crisis in living memory these will be the most poignant games we have ever experienced.
There’s been speculation that, by the summer, Japan might allow international spectators to arrive from countries that have low infection rates provided they have a test before and on arrival. The rumours are that Covid-negative and symptom-free visitors would probably not be required to self-isolate and would instead be asked to use an app to report in daily. With the vaccination roll out, it’s possible this could be loosened even further.
It’s broadly expected that mask wearing will be mandatory and spectators will be asked to refrain from shouting, screaming and generally getting carried away at the events, or else be required to leave the venue. None of this is definitive yet, of course, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on all developments going forwards.
If it is possible for non-athletes to travel to this year’s games there will be other things than Covid-19 to consider. Firstly, it will be ferociously hot. Japanese high summer is relentless, and can even catch Californians and Australians by surprise!
Secondly, before the 2020 games were postponed there were already serious availability issues, with large swathes of quality accommodation reserved for the national teams and their entourage. 2020 was not going to be cheap, with hotels sometimes charging several times their usual cost. It’s a little difficult to judge how this will play out in 2021, all things considered, but expect to pay a premium for accommodation close to events.
With these things in mind, if the games themselves are less important to you, but you want to visit Japan with their delightful simmer in the background, then June could be the perfect time to go. Take the fact of this being the rainy season with a pinch of salt - we’re talking showers, not tropical downpours!
Japan will loom large in living rooms around the world this summer and if you’re not already desperate to visit, you might be soon. Talk to us about a post-event trip in the late summer or early autumn, when availability will be better but there will still be plenty of buzz. If only the games will do, then let’s have a chat about your plans and keep in contact over the coming weeks. As we begin to understand more about the realities of travel to Japan in 2021, we can start to make those plans happen. We all need something to look forward to right now, and the promise of a trip to a Summer Games primed Japan provides plenty to dream about.