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My sister-in-law is involved with a group that does a biannual student exchange event between prairie Canada and the Fujioka area of Japan. In odd years, Fujioka students come to Saskatchewan; in even years, the reverse occurs. This event normally happens at the beginning of August. The Saskatchewan students leave for Japan in very late July 2018 this year, to give you a sense of schedule. The duration of the visit is about two to three weeks.

The Tokyo Olympics of 2020 will be well underway at this time of year, ending on August 9. The event really has to happen in August, because it is a mutually-available window of opportunity between the schedules of the students in each country.

Currently the group is considering deferring the exchanges by a year to avoid the 2020 Olympic Games. My instinct is that there is an opportunity here. I think the group could still hold the exchange during the Olympic Games, since Tokyo is so large in context with the Games, and the students are only using Tokyo as a transition to a local train. However, it is likely that air fares will be significantly higher and that there could be additional security.

Conversely, I suspect that just after the Games, there may be an opportunity when flights to North America are cheaper (as they fly full with visitors returning home, and emptier with visitors going to Japan).

Understanding that anything we say is slightly speculative, in the context of prior Olympics, what would be your advice about the timing of this student visit? Does my theoretical opportunity exist? Is the effect of the Games on Tokyo likely to be so mild (are airlines likely to increase capacity to offset increased demand) that it really doesn't matter about timing? I speak principally of travel from Canada, but I suspect that long-distance travel from anywhere in the world is likely to be similarly affected, so feel free to answer in the context of similar events in the future, to help keep this question relevant going forward.

  • If you really wanted to avoid Tokyo during the trip, Air Canada does seem to offer non-stop service from Vancouver to Nagoya, and one could take trains from there to Fujioka via Nagano. No idea if this would be worth the extra hassle, though. – Michael Seifert Jul 22 '18 at 14:42
  • @MichaelSeifert That's another option, for sure. Thanks for pointing it out! – Jim MacKenzie Jul 22 '18 at 14:50
  • Wouldn't cost be a factor, both before and during? Flight fares to Rio soared (as did hotel rates) so, perhaps, it might be wise to look at doing after the games (although the Paralympics are scheduled from 25 Aug-6 Sept and might still affect prices). – Giorgio Jul 22 '18 at 15:31
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    Which Fujioka? There are quite a few Fujioka's in Japan. – xuq01 Jul 22 '18 at 16:06
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    Comments from the downvoters as to why this is deemed an inappropriate question would be welcome. – Jim MacKenzie Aug 5 '18 at 14:14
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TL; DR: I suspect that the Tokyo Olympics would not make a significant difference.

I have been in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics, which were much more high-profile. The Chinese government took it much more seriously than the Japanese government does.

In general, very little changed. Yes, there were security checks, which were annoying. Yes, there was more traffic congestion, but probably because Beijing has always been a congested city anyway (Tokyo is much, much better in this respect, given most people travel on the railway). We stayed clear of the main Olympic area in Chaoyang district, as that was REALLY congested (there was very little rail transportation in that area in Beijing at the time). It could be occasionally annoying, but most of the time I didn't feel much, because Beijing was already a huge city!

On the flip side, it was great to be in Beijing at that time! The shops and waiters were more friendly (Beijing was known for shop staff with bad attitudes), the city was much cleaner and much more well-managed, and the public transportation was also much better managed. Plus, you get to watch the Olympic Games! Tickets for preliminary events, for instance, are cheap and easy to buy. That would be a great opportunity for your students.

Conclusion: Given that Tokyo is already the world's largest city (by certain definitions, of course), it is not really imaginable that the Olympic Games would have a large impact on things that happen in the city. The Yamanote Line and the subways might be more congested than usual (it would already be quite a scene for most Canadians anyway), and you might see more policemen out there, but I can't think of any real impact. Airfare would likely be influenced significantly, but given that the Olympics are very short (July 24 to August 9), your group could very easily schedule around that.

  • Thanks. And since the students should be able to avoid the areas around the Olympic venues, that particular problem shouldn't be an issue at all. – Jim MacKenzie Jul 22 '18 at 16:26
  • @JimMacKenzie The venues are scattered around the city (just like in Beijing), but most of them host at most a few games. Only the major Olympic areas (this time, centered around Toyosu and Jingu Gaien, it seems) would be a problem; these would be easy to avoid. – xuq01 Jul 22 '18 at 16:32

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