Tokyo 2020: How the Olympics’ postponement has affected fans

The Campbell family left Scotland for Tokyo in February

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not just athletes who have been affected.

Many fans expecting to travel to Japan have seen their plans thrown into limbo, with many struggling to get their hard-earned money back.

We asked you to get in touch with how the Games’ postponement had affected you, and we were inundated with responses.

Here are some that caught our eye.

‘We left our home, jobs and school to travel overland to Tokyo’

Six people, 5,000 miles, 24 countries. The adventure of a lifetime that would culminate in the greatest show on earth.

But the Campbell family’s overland journey from their home in the Scottish Borders to the Tokyo Olympics hasn’t exactly gone to plan.

“We had six weeks of our adventure and then everything started to shut down,” Harriet Campbell tells BBC Sport. “Hopefully we will get to Japan eventually.”

It was eight years ago that the seeds of the Campbells’ adventure were sown. In 2012, they missed out on the magic of the London Olympics, and, admitting they had been “a bit cynical”, Harriet and her husband Ben vowed then to take their four children – Lucy, now 12, 11-year-old twins Aurora and Sophie, and eight-year-old Magnus – to a Games in the future.

Harriet, 43, took a sabbatical from her job, while 47-year-old Ben quit his. Their children were pulled out of school for six months and their house was rented out. Their journey, which they are blogging every stage of the way, started in February.

Twelve weeks in, they have ticked off eight European countries – yet remain stuck at a relative’s house in France for the foreseeable.

The Campbells in Berlin

“The original plan was to go from Austria to Slovenia and Italy then come back to France as we were going to meet Ben’s parents here and give them our car, before doing the rest by train, bus and boat,” says Harriet.

“Of course, that didn’t happen. Austria announced it was going into lockdown and we realised we needed to move quickly.

“We drove 1,150km in 11 hours and 59 minutes through Austria, Germany and Switzerland to France, where we still are.”

For now, the Campbells’ planned travels through Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Mongolia, China and, finally, Japan hang in the balance.

“Obviously we are very disappointed that the Olympics have been postponed,” says Harriet.

“But although the Olympics was the original driver, the journey itself had become much bigger, so we are quite keen to keep going with the journey and keep the adventure alive.

“We are very aware that we are hugely fortunate.

“We are healthy, safe and in a beautiful place. It is so much worse for so many people and our thoughts are with them.”

‘Normal people save for a car, I save for the Olympics’

Jenny Slater and her dad attended their first Olympics in Beijing in 2008

Jenny Slater has loved the Olympics from a very young age and decided while she was still at school that she would travel to China on her gap year to watch the Beijing Games in 2008.

Four years later, she was at London 2012 and, four years after that, she quit her job to attend the Rio 2016 Olympics, travelling through South America afterwards. She has attended all three Games with her father, Jeremy.

“It’s one of the best things for me about the Olympics, that I get to spend time with my dad,” the 30-year-old tells BBC Sport.

Jenny – from London but now living in Copenhagen with her fiance – and Jeremy had been planning for Tokyo since before 2016.

“We knew that it was going to be an expensive one. Normal people save for a car, I save for the Olympics. I just love it so much.”

Jenny’s partner proposed to her last summer and they decided to honeymoon in Japan. But with her fiance “not into the Olympics”, the plan was that he would fly home after their honeymoon, with Jeremy flying out to join his daughter in Tokyo for the Games.

“The postponement of the Games felt inevitable and it is the right decision, but I was still really gutted,” Jenny says.

“I haven’t been able to get any money back on my flights or accommodation yet. My flights were about £800, but I’m hoping I will be able to just move them by a year.

“If we’re not able to get the money back or change the flights, then I think it’s going to be really tricky for us to go in 2021 – but I feel very lucky that I have been able to go to so many Olympics.”

Jenny Slater and her dad met Olympic canoe slalom gold medallist Joe Clarke in Rio

More of your stories

Del Mak with gymnasts Daniel Purvis and Kristian Thomas at the London 2012 closing ceremony

Del Mak: Have tickets to Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It was going to be my third Olympics in a row after getting the Olympic bug as part of the professional cast of the London 2012 closing ceremony.

Greg: After 2013 we saved up to go to Rio, but cancelled due to Zika. We kept saving for a dream trip to Tokyo. Sadly it will be a staycation now.

Ben Wicks: My daughter was born 08/08/08 as Beijing Olympics opened. I promised her I would take her to the Olympics for a birthday. Had stadium tickets for her 12th birthday!

Pilot Marc Chan flew Usain Bolt to London after the Rio 2016 Olympics. Bolt was the last to board the plane, and sat in seat 1A.

Marc Chan: I was the pilot who flew Usain Bolt from Rio to London after Rio 2016. I have a great photo. As we entered UK airspace, air traffic control asked (as they had on my two previous Rio trips during the Olympics) if we had any gold medallists on board. I replied we’ve got the fastest man in the world on board. I had tickets for Tokyo 2020 but the sun will rise again.

Ian Drinkwater: Had booked a once in a lifetime holiday with three kids (13, 10 and seven). We’d booked a month off to take in Tokyo, Australia and the US. Now in limbo.

Claire Moyle: I was going for my 60th birthday. I was a torch bearer at London 2012 and a Games Maker for the Paralympics, so I wanted to compare the experience.

Claire Moyle carries the London 2012 Olympic torch

Sam: Destroyed five years of planning. Six weeks off work (as key workers unheard of), a trip of a lifetime to make memories with our eight and 11-year-olds.

Katie: Booked dream holiday to the Olympics with my brother for his 21st birthday. It was going to be his first time out of the UK.

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