In my first blog I gave the starting signal for the preparations for the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. We still have time, but it is important to know what to do in which period and how! The next two blogs are about the issues that will play in the coming months: planning & tickets. Ticket sales will start in the coming months, crucial of course! The exact date is not yet known but we do know that at the end of April 2019 (!) the sale will start for (only) the Japanese. After that the cards will be made available to the national sales organizations, timing mid-2019. In the Netherlands that is Sunweb. You can register for their newsletter.

How do I make my own Olympic Schedule?

But before you can order, it is important to look carefully at what tickets you would like. This blog is about this: what does the schedule of the Games look like, what should you keep in mind when it comes to choosing sports events? And of course, the question; what do you want?

The definitive program of Tokyo2020 with which sports take place on which days is fully known. We do know which sports will take place on which days and, importantly, at which locations.

You can ask yourself the following questions based on this schedule:

1- Which sports? (Which do I want to see and when do they take place?)

2- Where do they take place? (The logistics puzzle)

3-How do I get the ultimate Olympic Fan Feeling?

If you have answers to these questions, the result is your personal “Olympic Dream Plan!” And with it you can enter the “Ticket-Hunting phase” to make those dreams come true!

Olympic Program

All Summer Olympics have roughly the same planning. After the Opening (always on Friday evening) the 1st week is the domain of (especially): swimming, judo, rowing and cycling (road racing). In addition, there are preliminaries / group phases for the team sports. In the 2nd week the emphasis is on the knockout phase for these team sports (with most finals in the closing weekend). In addition, athletics & track cycling take place during this week. Depending on your must-see sports, you can build the rest of your schedule around it. It also depends on how much time you have (3 days, one week or even the full 2 weeks?). And furthermore; the question is whether (and how much time) you want to reserve for sightseeing (after all, you are there)

In the first week the density of events is much higher, mainly due to the team sports. It is also easier (and cheaper) to get tickets for preliminaries than, for example, the basketball final on the final Sunday! So, keep this in mind. Via this link you can see the final schedule with ticket codes.

Olympic Locations

Tokyo has more than 35 million inhabitants. That means that logistics will become an important element in your planning. This is the case for every Olympic Games, but now even more. Most sports will be held in the heart of Tokyo. But some sporting events take place outside of the Tokyo city centre: This is the case for surfing, basketball, golf, sailing, track cycling and baseball. In the city of Tokyo, roughly two Olympic areas are identified; the Tokyo Bay Zone (near the harbour) and the Tokyo Heritage Zone (downtown centre). Via this link and this video, you can see exactly where the event will take place. Based on my own experience I know how important the logistical part of an Olympic adventure is. You not only have to consider the travel time between events, but also the time you need for security checks. Now that is always exaggerated by the Olympic Organization (“be at the stadium 2 hours in advance”), but it is important to plan your time.

Olympic choices

It might be useful to give you a look at my way of thinking. This includes practical (but personal!) tips for creating an Olympic schedule.

During our first Games; Athens ’04, we opted randomly for some sports. We did not take transport times into account, which sometimes meant that we came in late! In Beijing ’08 we opted for athletics as the main event. So, we went the 2nd week. And we did go for sports in the “less popular/less known program” and that fitted logistically in our program.

Moreover, we managed to find a place to sleep near the Olympic stadium, which made our lives a lot more pleasant with a busy schedule. In London ’12 we went back and forth twice, so we could see Judo in the first week and the team finals in the final weekend. And in Rio ’16 we chose sports that were mainly played outside to enjoy the great surroundings!

Below my 6 checkpoints for making my Olympic schedule.

1-Where does the Netherlands stand a chance of winning a medal?

It is always unique to experience a Dutch medal, even if it is in a sport that you might have a little less experience with. (For me, for example, in Beijing 2008 the water polo gold medal of the “Orange ladies” was a unique experience!) It is often possible to purchase tickets for matches with Dutch involvement during the Games. Often there was a ticket counter in the Holland Heineken House that sometimes-acquired new tickets during the games. In my schedule I already note certain finals with Dutch chances (Gymnastic- Epke Zonderland, Hockey-Women etc.).

2- Which sports are important for the home country?

Sports where the home country has a chance of winning gold gives an extra dimension to that Olympic Fan Feeling. In London ’12 that was, for example, Athletics (Mo Farah) and in Rio ’16 football (in Maracana!), and (Beach) volleyball! In Tokyo ’20, of course, the martial arts Judo & Karate will be extremely popular!

3-Indoor vs outdoor

Sometimes it is very pleasant, certainly in the middle of a hot day, to sit in an airconditioned environment and thus watch an Indoor sport. In contrast, outdoor events are great for seeing somewhat of the surroundings. In Rio ’16, windsurfing, beach volleyball and open water swimming on the Copacabana were unforgettable! In Tokyo it will be extremely hot (> 35 degrees Celsius) so at the hottest moments I will be inside!

4-Unique or “strange” sports.

I remember going to wrestling in Athens ’04. Wrestling! Not a sport that I was really interested in, but I am happy that I immediately saw how great it is to watch (for me) totally new sports. And, to taste the atmosphere with supporters from totally different countries. I went to curling in Sochi “14, where we had a great party in the stands together with the Japanese supporters. Also, good to know that there are new sports on the program in Tokyo: among others karate, skateboarding and sports climbing!

5-Budget and Prices

An aspect that will certainly play an important role in every plan is the budget! What do you have to spend and what are the costs of the various items such as: 1) travel, 2) place to stay, 3) tickets & 4) other costs. When it comes to ticket prices, they are known. The most expensive are always the Opening and Closing ceremony (between 100 euros and 2400 euros (!)). Also, not a bargain are the finals of popular sports such as basketball and gymnastics. Swimming is also expensive because there are very few seats in the stadium. Relatively cheap are the preliminaries of “smaller” sports such as hockey (!), Water polo etc. The prices for Japanese tickets are lower than the prices that are sold via national organizations such as Sunweb. They always charge an uplift on top of the original price. My experience is that with a mixed program (preliminaries and finals) you must expect a minimum of 100/125 euros per ticket.

A budget advice is to look at sports that are 1) less popular and 2) that accommodate large numbers of spectators. There are also always several sports “free” to view such as: triathlon, the marathon, the sailing sports (bring your binoculars), cycling (road race and the time trial). Moreover, it is extra fun because you will be among mostly local audience. Furthermore, it is advisable to watch several sports matches in local bars or restaurants, especially when the local favourites come into action! This will give you those Goosebumps & unique memories!

6-Sport vs culture. How often do you come back to a city like Rio or Tokyo? Therefore, always try to free up some time for a few sightseeing events. I try to combine this logistically with the locations of the sport events. Beijing – the Wall, Rio – the Sugar Hill / the Christ Statue.

Conclusion: Your own Olympic Bucket List

Based on above considerations, I make a draft schedule of “my own Olympic Games!”. The days, the locations and the sports (with the specific ticket codes, e.g. SW01) that I would like to see. This is the schedule with which you can, more effectively, hunt for tickets. Hunting is the right word. Keep faith in getting the tickets for your selected events. Of course, you will not get everything you want right away. But here too the following rules apply perseverance, perseverance and a believe that you will succeed. It is just like being an Olympic Athlete yourself!

How often I have not been told. “Steven, you will never succeed”: Tennis finals at Wimbledon in (London’12), the football final in Maracana (Rio’16), the basketball final (London’12), the last gold for Usain Bolt in the relay 4×100 (Rio’16) or the hockey final against China (Beijing’08). It was sometimes close, minutes before the event started. And sometimes it was arranged after the first application 1.5 years before the Games. But never give up!

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