Alan Dizdarevic, whose company, CoSport, handles Olympic ticket sales for the United States, Australia and six other countries, said that although Tokyo organizers offered refunds early in the pandemic, the vast majority of people who bought tickets decided to keep at least some of them.
CoSport does not release specific figures, but, Dizdarevic said: “At this point after the returns and new purchases, the number of spectators who are holding tickets for Tokyo 2020, from the countries in which we sell tickets, is slightly lower than that before the pandemic. However, as long as conditions allow, we expect the U.S. to have a strong showing, with the number of Americans attending Tokyo 2020 likely to eclipse the number who attended Rio 2016 and London 2012.”
Michael Lynch, who previously led Visa’s global sponsorship programs and remains close with several Olympic sponsors, said companies were still holding out hope that they would be able to bring hundreds of clients and customers to the Games.
“The smart ones all have extensive contingency plans,” Lynch said. “Bach is saying the right words so there is a sense of optimism in the sponsor community.”
Optimism, though, can go only so far, especially in the United States, which usually takes more than 500 athletes to the Games.
Sports leaders in the United States and elsewhere are pursuing a number of alternative plans based on a range of scenarios. Some alternatives involve immediately putting an athlete who qualifies for the Olympics in a controlled environment, though that would be difficult for track and field athletes, who generally compete in Europe in the weeks leading up to the Olympics.
Other plans might require cutting back on who competes in the Olympic trials. Some 2,000 swimmers normally participate in them, even though no more than about 75 to 100, at most, have a realistic chance of making the team.