Your guide to attending the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Nov 27, 2019

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Welcome to TPG’s hub for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Bookmark this page as it will be updated with information related to Tokyo 2020 as the games approach.

The Summer Olympic Games only come around once every four years, and that time is coming up soon. On July 24, 2020, the Olympic flame will light up the night in Tokyo, Japan, ushering in two weeks of traditional Olympic favorites, such as gymnastics, swimming, diving, volleyball, and track and field, as well as newer competitions like surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing.

The Summer Olympics draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, competitors and support staff to one city, which means that everything from flights to hotels to tickets can be hard to find (and afford). While Rio was a challenging Olympics host city for the last Summer Games in some ways, Tokyo should make for a much better spot to cheer on your country. Japan is even building a temporary terminal at Narita Airport to deal with the influx of visitors.

Booking a trip to the Olympics isn’t easy. Rooms are often blocked off well in advance, the demand for flights can be high and the process to buy tickets is … a process. But seeing the Olympics in person is a memorable and achievable goal. TPG is here to help get you there — hopefully by using (or earning) a few points along the way.

Summer 2020 may still feel far away, but the time to book hotels and flights to Tokyo is now.

In This Post

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Purchasing 2020 Olympic tickets

The initial rounds for official ticket requests for U.S. residents has passed (it was May 31). Each country manages ticket requests differently, but for the United States, the authorized ticket dealer is CoSport. There have been package offers still available that include event tickets, but prepare for sticker shock on those.

However, there is another round of tickets launching on October 10 at noon EDT for U.S. residents. CoSport expects very high demand and an online queue will be utilized. The previous sale resulted in around 1 million hits to the website with tickets selling out very quickly.

On October 10, participating customers will be ordered into an online queue to ensure their fair processing amid what is expected to be high demand. CoSport’s previous sale registered nearly 1 million web visits on July 9 alone, selling out of tickets within hours.

CoSport shares that, “The unprecedented demand for Olympic tickets and accommodation can be a challenge for Americans looking to travel to Tokyo, so we encourage fans to plan early, check out Thursday’s ticket sale and consider package options.”

To give a flavor of even ticket prices, tickets to the gymnastics finals (when they were available) ranged from around $100 – $700 per ticket, depending on the seating choice.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Entertainment Spending

Photo courtesy of the IOC
(Photo courtesy of the IOC)

Booking hotel rooms in Tokyo

Since most points-friendly hotels open their booking schedule 11–13 months in advance, that means we’ve officially entered the time frame when most points hotels accept bookings. Tokyo has many points-friendly hotels to choose from, but that doesn’t mean you will be able to book them for the Olympics. Not only is demand high, but many hotels will be completely blocked out by the Olympic Committee for sale as part of ticket packages or for use by those directly involved with the games.

As of October 10, bad news: All of the Hyatt properties in Tokyo now show zero award availability over the dates of the 2020 Olympics, which opens on July 24. This includes the Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo, Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Roppongi, Park Hyatt Tokyo (of Lost in Translation fame), the Hyatt Regency Shinjuku and more.

The Conrad Tokyo by Hilton is also no longer an awards option as of this update. And the same goes for all Marriott hotels in the area including the Westin Tokyo, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, and IHG properties including The Strings by InterContinental in Shinagawa, InterContinental ANA Tokyo and InterContinental Tokyo Bay.

That said, you might get lucky, so keep checking back. I planned a successful miles and points-fueled trip to the 2012 Olympics in London just a couple of weeks before the event by jumping on last-minute availability. On the flip side, I secured points accommodations over a year in advance to the 2014 Sochi Games and then had those reservations canceled when the hotel had to turn over its rooms to the Olympic Committee.

  • Hyatt: Schedule opens 13 months in advance (open now).
  • Hilton: Schedule opens around 12 months in advance (open now).
  • Marriott: Schedule opens a little under 12 months in advance (open now).
  • Radisson: Booking window varies. Cash rates for July 2020 available now at the Narita Radisson near Narita Airport.
  • IHG: Schedule opens a little under 12 months in advance (open now)

Related: Best Hotel Credit Cards

You don’t want to set your heart on a particular hotel since it may not be available during the Olympics, but here are some good points-friendly hotel options in Tokyo and their per-night award rates. Additionally, here’s a guide on the best points hotels to book for attending the Olympics in 2020. So keep your eyes peeled in case something does pop up closer in to the actual date.

Park Hyatt Tokyo (Photo by Samantha Rosen / The Points Guy)
Park Hyatt Tokyo (Photo by Samantha Rosen / The Points Guy)

Booking flights to Tokyo

Tokyo has two main airports: Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND). While we don’t recommend being too picky about exactly where you land in Tokyo for the Olympics, Narita (NRT) is the larger airport, located farther from the city center. While Haneda now has more long-haul flights than in the past, it also accepts many shorter flights and is located closer to the city (making it a good choice to land in the middle of the action).

Photo by Getty Images
(Photo by Getty Images)

While flight availability may be tighter than normal on many dates around the Games, here are the best ways to use miles to travel to Japan as well as the ways to fly to Asia in business class.

Flight awards are now available from many airlines. International airlines generally open their booking calendars about 11 months in advance. However, the exact available booking dates will vary by airline, so here are some specifics:

  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club: 355 days
  • Air Canada Aeroplan: 355 days
  • American: 331 days
  • British Airways Executive Club: 354 days
  • Cathay Pacific: 360 days
  • Delta: 331 days
  • Japan Airlines: 360 days
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 355 days
  • United: 337 days

If you’re planning to attend the Opening Ceremony and the first week of the Summer Olympics, you can now book round-trip award flights. Here’s a sampling of what we found:

Use American AAdvantage miles for nonstop flights to NRT and HND

If you’ve got American AAdvantage miles, now may be a good time to use them for award flights to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as we found good availability in Main Cabin Premium Economy and Business on a variety of nonstop flights to NRT and HND.

As One Mile at a Time reports, there’s currently wide-open business class award availability on Japan Airlines from Los Angeles (LAX) to Haneda (HND). You can book one of two ways: American Airlines AAdvantage, where awards will cost you 60,000 miles one-way in business class; or Alaska Mileage Plan, where awards will also cost you 60,000 miles one-way.

The route will be operated by a four-cabin 777-300ER. JL16 departs Haneda at 5 p.m. and arrives at 10:50 a.m., and JL15 departs Los Angeles at 1:45 p.m. and arrives at 5:20 p.m. the next day.

Generally speaking, from U.S. gateways like Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX), flights in Main Cabin can be found on Economy SAAver fares from 67,500 AA miles round trip. Premium Economy is pricing at 137,500 miles and some Business SAAver fares are just 120,000 AA miles round trip. Fees for each are $56.33.

Use Delta SkyMiles

When we last checked, we found round-trip award flights in Main cabin for 70,000 miles and $61.33. Comfort+ for 82,000 miles and $61.93 while Comfort+ Select is 132,000 miles plus $55.93. DeltaOne seats clocked in at a whopping 445,000 SkyMiles and $189.13.

Unfortunately as of October 10, flights have gone up slightly for coach travelers, to starting fares from 75,000 SkyMiles and $285 in taxes round trip. And Comfort+ and Comfort+ Select flights aren’t available on most dates from many major gateway airports. But DeltaOne flyers from LAX should rejoice: round-trip flights from LAX are only 170,000 SkyMiles and $285 in taxes.

Nonstop flights are available from LAX and MSP to HND as well as ATL, DTW, SEA and PDX to NRT.

Nonstop flights from U.S. gateways to NRT and HND on United

There is good availability on United flights in economy class flying nonstop to Narita from Newark (EWR), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). Round-trip on economy saver is available from just 70,000 MileagePlus miles and $61.75 for taxes and fees.

We didn’t find any Business Saver Awards so if flying in business is important to you, you’d have to pay 175,000 miles each way for a Business Everyday Award. Keep checking availability for Business Saver Awards, which could pop up at any time.

United award flight to Tokyo Summer Olympics

United also flies nonstop to Haneda (HND) with good availability in economy, saver award routes now available from 70,000 miles round trip and $80 in fees. Nonstop award flights are available from Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO) and Washington, D.C. (IAD). We’re still not seeing Business Saver Awards but you can get Business Everyday Awards for 175k miles each way.

Flights from JFK to NRT on British Airways partners

Award flights from New York’s JFK to NRT in economy, premium economy and business class can be found on Japan Airlines, Iberia and Finnair for flights coinciding with the Summer Olympics. Availability changes quickly so be sure to search often and snag the seats you want as soon as you see them. The best option may be the nonstop awards on Japan Airlines from New York. Business class costs 108,250 British Airways Avios plus $160.90 per person. That same flight in premium economy earlier in the week is 72,250 Avios plus $160.90 per person.

If you want to go for gold, first class is available from 144,250 Avios and $160.90 one-way.

Flights from ORD to HND and NRT on British Airways and partners

Heading out of Chicago’s ORD on a British Airways flight to London and connecting to HND via Japan Airlines in business class is available for 152,750 Avios plus $789.63 per ticket. (Not a terrific deal with such a high cash portion.)

There’s also availability on Iberia to Narita.

Book Japan Airlines Flights with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

We also found Japan Airlines business class availability (75,000 miles per person one-way, excluding taxes, fees and surcharges) on flights from JFK to NRT and back using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. (You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Asia Miles at a 1:1 basis.)

This is not an exhaustive list of available flights, but the take-away here is that you should monitor your favorite airline redemption programs now for availability to and from Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Related: Best Airline Credit Cards

Note that airline awards are not all loaded the day the schedule opens and award availability is dynamic, so turn to a service such as ExpertFlyer to track award availability for you if you can’t find what you want on the first pass.

Japan Airlines Business Class (Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Explore beyond Tokyo

If you are going all the way to Japan for the 2020 Olympics, you might as well explore some of the country beyond Tokyo and the games. Here are some ideas (and we’ll add more as the games get closer):

Featured image by Duane Walker/Getty Images

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