Japan to Host Global Sporting Events: What Mobility Managers Need to Know
Japan is preparing to host two major sporting events, and key elements, such as transportation, accommodations and housing will be affected by the varying demands associated with these events. In this Insights, we explore the potential areas of impact to assignees and discuss what mobility managers need to know.
- Rugby World Cup, Osaka: September 20 – November 2, 2019
- Olympics, Tokyo: July 24 – August 9, 2020
While both events are expected to generate an influx of tourists, the Olympics are expected to have a much larger impact than the Rugby World Cup, with residual activity extending a month or so after the Olympics due to the Paralympic games.
Approximately 2,600,000 people will visit Tokyo during the Olympics, putting a great deal of pressure on temporary housing accommodations. The largest impact will be on hotel vacancy, which is expected to be close to zero during the period immediately surrounding the event.
Bookings for serviced apartments are expected to increase during both the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics. Most facilities require a minimum stay of one month, but there are a handful of premium serviced apartment facilities, however, that do offer a daily rate:
- Oakwood Premier Tokyo
- Somerset Tokyo
- Citadines (two buildings)
In addition, the below properties have been authorized by the government to offer their units on a short-term basis, with a minimum stay of three nights:
- Oakwood Residence Aoyama
- Oakwood Apartments Azabudai
- Oakwood Apartments Minami Azabu
- Oakwood Apartments Nishi-Shinjuku
An additional property, the Oakwood Yokohama, is expected to open in May of 2020.
The government is expected to take additional measures to open up housing for visitors, including bringing two large cruise ships up to the Tokyo Bay area as alternative lodgings to be used as “floating” hotels for visitors unable to book through traditional methods. They may also be opening other government-run facilities to lodgers, such as the National Olympic Memorial Youth Center.
While the events are not anticipated to have any direct effect on availability of long-term housing, (typically anything from studios to three-bedroom apartments) a sense of economic optimism has contributed to a continuing increase in rental rates for long term properties. These types of properties can only be applied for one-two months prior to occupancy.
Travel and Transportation
During the Olympics, efforts will be made to ensure that visitors take advantage of multiple transport options to ease pressure on regular routes. Special shuttle and rapid transit buses will run from the city core to each venue as well as the main tourist spots, and trains will add stops, with schedules extended (running until two a.m. instead of 12 midnight).
It is important to note that during the Rugby World Cup, the airports may be very crowded and compliance with visa regulations can help speed the process. Nationals of visa waiver countries (including the U.S., U.K., Australia, France and Germany) can enter Japan without a visitor visa and stay for up to 90 days. Nationals with no visa waiver (such as China and India), must apply for the visitor visa at the Japanese Consulate in their home/resident country before arriving in Japan.
Travelers to Japan may be required to show their return air ticket at the immigration counter upon entry to Japan. If a visitor has a criminal record in or outside Japan, they may be refused entry. All drugs, including recreational drugs such as marijuana, are banned in Japan. Penalties for possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs can result in long jail sentences and heavy fines.
A key importance is that visitors must carry their passports at all times in Japan and be prepared to present it in response to any requests for identification.
Japan is generally recognized as one of the safest countries in the world, with security concerns on a par – or even less than – other developed nations. Nonetheless, assignees are always advised to take normal precautions such as not displaying expensive jewelry or electronics, due to the influx of visitors from around the world and crowded conditions that typically exist during major sporting events.
For any international assignment, a full health evaluation/physical examination by a medical professional is strongly recommended before the assignee and accompanying family members travel to Japan, as well as to consult their health care provider with any concerns before traveling. For mobility leaders, it is also critical to have the latest information on any health issues and familiarize themselves with the travel advice provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and their countries’ health authorities.
No policy changes are expected around immigration processes for the Rugby World Cup. For the Olympics, changes such as easier access to the country are under consideration, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Currently, there are no anticipated impacts on work visa applications.
Key Tips for Mobility Managers and Assignees
The availability of long term housing options is not expected to be affected by these events, but the search process and environment assignees find themselves in upon initial arrival to Japan is expected to see a significant impact. It is recommended that assignees avoid pre-assignment visits or other house-hunting activities during the run-up of and immediately after the Olympics, although this should not be a problem during the Rugby World Cup.
There is no indication that serviced apartments will change their normal practices, but availability will be at a premium and can change very quickly in a short period of time. Some properties are already fully booked until the end of the year, while others have very high occupancy levels, currently in excess of 85 percent. With tight inventory situations prices can also fluctuate to reflect demand, so quick decisions on desired properties are highly encouraged.
A plus for those who cannot speak or read the local language is that the Tokyo government will be providing support through foreign language traffic and venue guides, special taxi pick-up spots with English speaking drivers, English translations of informational materials and interpretation support at major hospitals.