Carriers suspend inland freight movement during the Tokyo Summer Olympics

Carriers suspend inland freight movement during the Tokyo Summer Olympics

After a year of postponing the Summer Olympics from March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Olympics Committee and the government of Japan have proceeded to host the Olympics in Tokyo from July 23 until August 8 and the Paralympics from August 24 until September 5, respectively. Most events will be held in the Greater Tokyo area across 42 venues, including in Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa prefectures. There has been widespread opposition to the games in Japan, with the public calling for it to be postponed or canceled as over 11,000 athletes from around 206 countries are expected to participate in the multi-sport event despite the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo.

In light of this, local authorities have recently declared a state of emergency from July 8 until August 22 while barring spectators from sports events in order to combat the spread of the virus.

Traffic restrictions in Tokyo and surrounding areas

Amidst the pandemic precautionary measures, authorities have also imposed increased traffic restrictions, which began on July 19 around competition venues such as the Olympic Stadium, Yoyogi National Stadium, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium to cater to this large sporting event, which may affect freight movement within Tokyo. 

Dedicated lanes and priority lanes to transport athletes and sports delegations are also in place around 11 sections near venues in Tokyo and neighboring Chiba prefecture. The Metropolitan Expressway network that serves central Tokyo has begun to impose fees on passenger vehicles between 06:00 to 22:00 local time. As a result, some roads in Tokyo on July 19 were congested as motorists avoided the network lane. Moreover, traffic on a few highways in Tokyo will be regulated by reducing the number of open tollbooths, closing off entrances, and limiting available lanes. Moreover, several entrances to the Metropolitan Expressway will also be closed until August 9. The following highways will be affected on respective dates.  

DatesRoadsStatus  
Jul 19 – Aug 9Entrance to the Metropolitan Expressway along the No 10 Harumi Line  Closed
Jul 20 – Aug 9Entrance to the expressway at Saitama New Urban Center  Closed
Jul 23 & Aug 8Several entrances on the Central Circular Route No 2 Meguro Line No 3 Shibuya Line No 4 Shinjuku line  Closed
Table 1. Highways and main roads across Tokyo closed due to the Olympics. Source: Everstream Analytics

Logistics operators temporarily suspend delivery services

Prominent Japanese logistics service providers including Yamato Express, Sagawa Express, and Japan Post have also announced a suspension to some of its services during the Olympic games, which may hinder pickup and delivery services coupled with the traffic restrictions.

CarrierTime Period Locations AffectedType of disruption
Yamato ExpressJul 13 – Aug 8, Aug 17 – Sept 5Tokyo & Host Area, Within Haneda Airport Passenger Terminal (to tent operator in airport)Delay
Yamato ExpressJul 13 – Aug 8, Aug 17 – Sept 5Olympic Village, IBC: International Broadcast Center / MPC: Main Press Center (Tokyo Big Sight), Takkyubin to BajikoenService suspended 
Sagawa ExpressJul 23 – Aug 8, Aug 24 – Sept 5Tokyo: Chuo-ku, Chiyoda-ku, Shibuya-ku, Koto-ku, Minato-ku, Edogawa (part), Sumida-ku, Shinagawa-ku, Bunkyo-ku, Shinjuku-ku, Setagaya Ward (part), Fuchu, Chofu City, Mitaka City, Koganei City, Inagi City   Kanagawa Prefecture: Yokohama City Nishi Ward, Minami Ward, Naka Ward, Kohoku Ward (part), Hodogaya Ward (part), Sagamihara City Midori Ward, Kamakura City, Fujisawa City Enoshima, Kawasaki City Aso Ward   Chiba Prefecture: Chiba City Mihama Ward, Isumi City (part), Chosei County (part),    Saitama Prefecture: Saitama City Chuo Ward, Kawagoe City, Asahi City, Wako City   Yamanashi Prefecture: Nantodome County (part)    Shizuoka Prefecture: Gotenba City , Susono, Suntō District (part of)    Hokkaido: Sapporo, Chuo-ku, Higashi-ku, Kita-ku, Shiroishi-ku, Atsubetsu District, Toyohira-ku, Kiyota-ku, Minami-ku, Kitahiroshima, EbetsuDelay
Japan PostJul 19 – Aug 9 Aug 24 – Sept 5Olympics: Tokyo, Hokkaido, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Shizuoka   Paralympics: Tokyo, Chiba, ShizuokaDelay
Seino,  Kintetsu World ExpressJul 23 – Aug 8, Aug 24 – sept 5Tokyo, competition venuesDelay
Senko GroupJul 19 – Aug 9、 Aug 24 – Sept 523 wards in Tokyo, competition venues   Delivery from Tokyo Port, Haneda Airport, JR Freight TerminalDelay    
Nippon ExpressJul 19 – Aug 8,   Aug 24 – Sept 5Competition venue, Olympic village, Haneda AirportDelay    Arrow flights closed from  July 22 – July 25 
Table 2: Logistics carriers temporarily suspending or delaying services in Japan due to the games. Source: Everstream Analytics

While impacts on ocean and air freight will be minimal, nationwide delays in the collection and delivery of cargo are likely amid the suspension of transport and postal services. Moreover, around 60,000 security personnel, as well as 36,500 police officers, will be deployed at the competition venues to ensure public security which may result in vehicle spot checks for trucks that are operating at night due to the change in schedules. 

Customers with interests in shipments within or to Japan during the Olympic and Paralympics games should keep in mind the traffic policy changes and the potential delays in inland freight movement. For urgent shipments to Japan, organizations can consider shipping to alternative transport hubs instead of the Tokyo Freight Terminal. Customers should adjust the delivery dates or timings, such as using night services, to ensure timely pickup and delivery of goods.

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