There’s no doubt that most people who have traveled to Japan would declare its capital, Tokyo, as a world-class city, capable of hosting the equally world-class Tokyo Olympic Games. The management facilitated the same event back in 1964, making it one of only three cities to have ever hosted the Olympics twice once next year’s athletic mecca winds up. So, it stands to reason that Tokyo is ready to show again as presenters and all accounts indicate that they are, except for accommodations.
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However, the latest news from the city is that organizers are panicking over the lack of hotel space for visitors when planners discovered that they’ll be short at least 14,000 suites for the big event. The discrepancy might be small potatoes compared to the 10 million expected to hit the city in time to see the Olympic torch light up in National Stadium launching the games July 24. But in a city on an island that’s compact enough as it is, vacancy space is at a luxury.
Tokyo’s hospitality industry has taken care of lodging for the roughly 11,000 athletes expected to compete in 33 events at the Games, with some 46,000 other suites already reserved for Olympic officials and global dignitaries. But bookings in the rest of the city, as well as neighboring communities on Japan’s main island of Honshu, have already reached capacity.
Compared to other major metropolitan areas that previously hosted the Olympic, Tokyo doesn’t have many upscale hotels, although major hospitality chains like the Four Seasons, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton are present in the city. The demand for hotel space shot up in 2018 when a record 31.8 million tourists visited Japan during the event, nearly a nine percent increase from the previous year.
The good news is that at least Tokyo has all the facilities ready, with the construction of National Stadium, which hosts the track and field events as well as the opening and closing ceremonies officially completed early December. Tokyo still had other venues still standing from the 1964 event and all they needed were upgrades. That’s a far cry from the horror stories that plagued the 2016 games hosted by Rio de Janeiro, which still had builders on the job within hours of the opening ceremonies.
In response to the scarcity, short-term housing prices by Airbnb spots in the area have reportedly skyrocketed to more than $840 US per night. Additionally, some luxury cruise liners have volunteered to stay in port to take on extra visitors for the duration of the Olympic 2020 Games. Still, in the case of Tokyo accommodations and with less than eight months before the torch is lit, the efforts among organizers to find enough tourist spaces will be nothing short of Olympian.
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