Full refunds in doubt for overseas ticketholders for Tokyo Olympics

Many overseas ticketholders for this summer’s rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will not receive full refunds.

The news comes after organisers recently opted to ban international fans amid ongoing concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rescheduled Olympics are set to take place from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics to follow from August 24 to September 5.

Some Authorised Ticket Resellers, the brokers who are typically appointed by national Olympic committees, have announced they will only refund the face value of the tickets and the shipping fees, leaving fans out of pocket after paying a handling fee. ATRs are allowed to charge up to a 20 per cent handling fee on tickets

CoSport, the ATR for the United States and other territories and countries, said in a letter over the weekend to ticket holders that it would not refund the handling fee.

The letter, signed by CoSport president Robert F. Long, said, according to the Associated Press news agency: “CoSport and other Olympic entities encouraged the Japanese government and organisers to refund all costs incurred by international spectators.”

The broker said it could not start paying refunds until it receives refunds from the organisers, which it said would not be until “the third quarter of this year.”

In addition, ticketholders will have to act fast in order to receive a refund from CoSport, with the firm setting a deadline of April 9 to submit the required document.

“Failure to meet this deadline will jeopardise your refund,” the letter said. “We realise this is a quick turnaround, however, it is based on the deadline we must meet to apply for a refund on your behalf.”

By applying for a refund customers may in effect be releasing CoSport from any further claims, which would keep fans from taking further legal action.

CoSport, which also operates as JET Set Sports, received two loans each of $784,900 in a coronavirus-related loan programme run by the Small Business Administration. One came in April 2020 and the other in January, for a total of $1,569,800.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is slated to take over ticket sales starting with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, leaving many ATRs’ futures hanging in the balance.

The ATR for most of the Caribbean and Latin America, Cartan Tours, did not indicate on its website how it would handle refunds, but said it would work “to obtain all eligible and applicable refunds.”

Meanwhile, Team GB, which is handling sales in Britain, indicated on its website it would give full refunds.

“If you have bought a travel package(s) through us, they are protected by our COVID-19 guarantee, offering a 100% refund,” the group said.

Tokyo organisers said about 600,000 Olympic tickets have been sold to people outside Japan, while domestic fans purchased around 4.45 million of a total of 7.8 million tickets for the event.