Tokyo 2020: Traveling in Japan During the Olympics & COVID-19
Despite the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 and the need to postpone the Tokyo Olympics from their original schedule of summer 2020, the Games of the XXXII look set to go ahead in 2021. On this page we provide information for international visitors and those living in Japan, looking to plan and book their travel to Japan during the Tokyo Olympics including:
4 / Olympic Venues
This page is not intended to be an exhaustive resource regarding the Games but hopefully will help you plan you travel including trips outside of Tokyo during the Olympics. After all, with so much on offer in Japan and the Tokyo heat always sweltering in summer, we expect you’ll want to get out of the capital and explore this beautiful country.
1 / TOKYO 2020: LATEST NEWS & UPDATES
July 12 2021: with the Games set to begin in just over ten days time, the government has announced that due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in Tokyo, a new ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) will be in effect in the capital from today until at least August 22. The Tokyo Olympics will therefore take place under those restrictions. It has also been confirmed that spectators will not be able to attend events.
March 21 2021: it’s official. Japanese officials have announced that international visitors will not be permitted to enter Japan as spectators for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Scheduled to start on July 23rd 2021, the Games look set to go ahead however it will unfortunately be without any international visitors in the stadiums. All tickets already sold to international visitors will be refunded in full. There is no official word yet about entry of the teams and supporting staff.
March 5 2021: while there is no official announcement yet, the head of the Tokyo Olympic committee, Hashimoto Sekio, has suggested that international visitors may not be permitted to enter Japan for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games. Hashimoto has stated, ‘If the situation is tough and it would make the [Japanese} consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening’ – the strongest suggestion yet that international visitors will not be permitted. A number of government officials have now implied that a final decision is pending, with an official announcement expected by around March 25th. We will update this page once more information is available.
December 7 2020: with the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has released updates regarding the steps being taken to ensure the Games can go ahead in in summer 2021. Measures including reduced numbers of residents in the Olympic Village in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and guidelines for the streamlined arrival and departure of athletes were provided. These are other measures are expected to be published in early-2021, a positive sign that the Games remain on-track to take place next year.
December 1 2020: in a largely symbolic but positive step, a large set of floating Olympic Rings have been reinstalled on Tokyo Bay, having been removed following the postponement of the Games from 2020 to 2021. The reappearance of the rings is a statement of Japan’s determination that the Games go ahead in July to August 2021.
2 / COVID-19: LATEST NEWS & UPDATES
These pages are provided under our ‘Clean Green & Healthy’ campaign – information dedicated to helping our friends both here and abroad plan their travel with peace of mind including up-to-date information about what’s happening and the latest COVID-19 news and numbers from Japan.
3 / WHEN & WHERE WILL THE GAMES TAKE PLACE?
The Tokyo Summer Olympics – officially ‘the Games of the XXXII Olympiad’ will take place from Friday July 23rd to Sunday August 8th 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The opening and closing ceremonies will take place on those dates at the Olympic Stadium, Tokyo. Taking place on the intervening dates, most events and venues are located in or nearby the capital with a couple of exceptions. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will take place from Tuesday 24th to Sunday 5th September 2021 using the same venues.
The Games were moved from their original dates of Friday July 24th 2020 to Sunday August 9th 2020, due to the spread of COVID-19 around the world and closure of international borders. While previous Olympic Games have been cancelled – the Summer Olympics in 1916, 1940 and 1944 and Winter Olympics in 1940 and 1944 due to World War I and World War II – the postponement of the 2020 Games marks the first time in history either the Summer or Winter Olympics has had to be postponed.
Despite being postponed to 2021, the Tokyo Olympics will continue to be referred to as ‘Tokyo 2020’. It marks the second time Tokyo will have hosted the Summer Olympics following on from its role as host city in 1964, and in addition to Japan having hosted the Winter Olympics on two occasions – firstly, Sapporo in 1972 and our home Nagano – host of the Winter Olympic Games in 1998.
4 / OLYMPIC VENUES
As stated above, the Olympics will take place in July and August 2021. Most events will take place in Tokyo with some locations also outside of the capital. The following venues will host events during the Games:
Olympic Stadium (see map) / Tokyo Stadium (see map) / Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (see map) / Yoyogi National Stadium (see map) / Nippon Budokan (see map) / Tokyo International Forum (see map) / Kokugikan Arena (see map) / Equestrian Park (see map) / Musashino Forest Sport Plaza (see map) / Musashino-no-mori Park (see map) / Ariake Arena (see map) / Ariake Gymnastics Centre (see map) / Ariake Urban Sports Park (see map) / Ariake Tennis Park (see map) / Odaiba Marine Park (see map) / Shiokaze Park (see map) / Aomi Urban Sports Park (see map) / Oi Hockey Stadium (see map) / Sea Forest Cross-Country Course (see map) / Sea Forest Waterway (see map) / Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre (see map) / Yumenoshima Park Archery Field (see map) / Tokyo Aquatics Centre (see map) / Tatsumi Waterpolo Swimming Center (see map) / Asaka Shooting Range (see map)
International Stadium Yokohama (see map)
Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium (see map)
Miyagi Stadium (see map)
Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (see map)
With Olympic venues spread through multiple regions outside of Tokyo, many international visitors will want to take advantage of some of Japan Rail’s travel passes covering use of the country’s fantastic rail network. Offering convenience and big savings, international visitors can choose from different passes, and both international visitors and foreign residents of Japan take access discounted rail tickets online – see below for details.
5 / REQUIREMENTS FOR ENTERING JAPAN IN 2021
In preparation for the Games, the Japanese government continues to enact a gradual opening of the international border. To date, the government has taken a cautious approach but appears set on opening the borders for international travel as soon as it is safe to do so, with certain countries already eligible to travel to Japan again for short-term business trips. For up-to-date information see our ‘Traveling To/From Japan During COVID-19’ page. This page is provided in conjunction with our ‘Who Can Travel to Japan?’ page which provides specific information regarding entry streams and requirements for eligible passport-holders.
For information regarding Japan’s international airports, please refer to our airport pages: Narita Airport (Tokyo) / Haneda Airport (Tokyo) / Kansai International Airport (Osaka) / Chubu Centrair International Airport (Nagoya, Aichi) / Matsumoto Airport (Matsumoto, Nagano) / Toyama Airport (Toyama) / Komatsu Airport (Kanazawa, Ishikawa).
6 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PASSPORT
Consistent with many countries around the world, Japan has announced its intention to utilise some form of digital vaccination passport in an effort to re-open its international. While the exact details of how this will work and which digital platform Japan will use are not yet confirmed, the government appears committed to rolling-out a smartphone app which travelers can use to satisfy the health requirement and allowing them to travel to Japan. It is hoped that this will facilitate opening of the international border in the near future. For further information, see our ‘Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport’ page.
7 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM
Get the latest news and information about the roll-out of Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program including which vaccines will be used, when and who will be vaccinated, and whether you need to be vaccinated to travel here.
8 / ACCOMMODATION DURING THE OLYMPICS
Visitors heading to Tokyo for the Olympics will need to book their accommodation well in advance to avoid missing-out. Expect hotels to be fully booked during the Games and the weeks either side, with extremely high prices for most accommodation in the capital. Our ‘Where to Stay in Tokyo?’ page highlights some of the best and most convenient areas to stay in the capital, including a couple of locations bordering Tokyo such as Omiya and Yokohama and a few suggestions a little further afield, including Nagano City.
Many if not most international visitors to Japan will take advantage of one of several rail passes, allowing almost unlimited travel of the country’s world class rail network including its legendary ‘Shinkansen’ or ‘Bullet Train’ – see below for details.
With accommodation heavily booked during the Games, and with prices likely to be just as demanding, making use of the train network and staying outside of the capital will be a great option for many visitors. Only 80 to 110 minutes from Tokyo Station using the Hokuriku Shinkansen, Nagano Station is the gateway to Central Japan and a good option for visitors looking for well-priced accommodation away from the congestion, expense and summer heat of Tokyo during the Games.
9 / TRAVEL INFO: GETTING AROUND JAPAN DURING THE OLYMPICS
Containing the spread of COVID-19 during the Olympic Games is likely to have some impact on movement around the country making it important to stay up-to-date with any affected services. Our ‘Traveling Inside Japan During COVID-19’ page provides useful information about getting around the country and what, if any, services and regions are affected by restrictions.
10 / TRAVEL INFO: RAIL PASSES & DISCOUNTED TICKETS
Home to one of the world’s great rail networks, international visitors have access to some economical and convenient rail pass, while foreign residents of Japan can access some great deals online. The passes listed below cover different lines and services, including some but not all services in Tokyo, and will be of best value to visitors looking to get out of the capital and explore Japan:
Japan Rail (JR) Pass – available to non-residents only
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travelers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars.
The JR Pass allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Japan Rail (JR) East Pass/ Nagano & Niigata – available to residents & non-residents
The JR East Pass covers the Hokuriku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines serving Nagano and Niigata, along with other regional services. There is only one option of pass, covering 5 days of use within a 14-day period from its date of activation.
Notably cheaper than the JR Pass, this is a great option for visitors staying within Nagano and Niigata. Much like the JR Pass, it allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Hokuriku Arch Pass – available to non-residents only
Valid for 7 consecutive days from date of activation, the Hokuriku Arch Pass covers train services from Tokyo – including trains from both Narita and Haneda Airports – to Nagano and Kanazawa and then onto Kyoto, Osaka and Kansai Airport.
For many international visitors, this pass covers the majority of their intended destinations as the they follow the most popular tourist route from Tokyo to Kanazawa and onto Kyoto and Osaka. Notably cheaper than the full JR Pass, the Hokuriku Arch Pass offers fantastic convenience and savings.
Buying Discounted Rail Tickets Online – available to residents only
Foreign residents of Japan can take advantage of deals including discounted tickets, directly available via Japan Rail’s ‘EkiNet’ website.
Our ‘Discount Shinkansen Tickets: How to Buy Online’ page has a step-by-step guide of how to by discounted shinkansen tickets – up to savings of 50% – online!
11 / GETTING-OUT OF TOKYO: BEST DAY-TRIPS & OVERNIGHT GETAWAYS
While the Games are certain to keep you busy and entertained, you’ll no doubt need a break from the congestion and summer heat of Tokyo and want to get out and about and explore everything that Japan has to offer!
Our ’30 Things To Do Near Tokyo: Best Day-trips & Overnight Getaways’ page is a great place to start when planning your travel. We list thirty destinations that can be easily accessed from the capital, especially for international visitors holding one of the Japan Rail passes listed above.
Blessed with beautiful natural landscapes and age-old tradition, we hope you’ll consider visiting us here in Central Japan. Readily accessible using the Hokuriku, Joestu or Tokaido Shinkansen lines from Tokyo, the region is within easy reach but in every other sense, a world away from the congestion and hustle of the capital.
Forget the crowds and escape the heat by heading into Japan’s mountainous heartland this summer.
12 / PACKAGE & SAVE: DISCOVER CENTRAL JAPAN WITH US!
Based in Nagano and operating all year round, Snow Monkey Resorts is a top-rated travel agent, tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where and when to go, to help you discover and enjoy Central Japan’s many wonderful attractions.
As a registered travel agent, we can package your next trip to Nagano and Central Japan including transport, accommodation, tours, restaurants and more! For guests wanting to access the resorts in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination. All tours are led by English-speaking, locally-based guides.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule.
Vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan? Contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!