At least 59 internet domains containing phrases related to the Tokyo Olympics and 2021 were obtained on Tuesday, the day the spectacle was postponed, it was learned Thursday.
Many are believed to have been acquired for resale, with one being auctioned for ¥1.9 million.
An expert said such sites might eventually be used for fraudulent purposes.
A research group led by Waseda University professor Tatsuya Mori found 126 registered domain names containing Tokyo, 2021, Olympic and other related words.
The number of such domains started rising in late February and spiked after the International Olympic Committee decided Tuesday to postpone the Summer Games by up to a year because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the group.
The owners are thought to be individuals or groups unrelated to the sporting event.
The domain tokyo2021.org, which mimics the official Olympic domain name tokyo2020.org, is owned by a person claiming to be a doctor in Britain.
“I purchased this several weeks ago, before the pandemic,” the person said. “I would be willing to sell the domain if someone else is interested in it.”
“I have already received offers to purchase the domain, but I do not want to rush into any decision and so have not sold yet,” the person said, adding. “I have a lot of interest since the official decision (on the postponement of the Olympics), and so I am waiting to choose the best offer.”
The domain name tokyo2021shop.jp, which also resembles tokyo2020shop.jp, the domain for the official online shop for the games, was listed on an auction website Tuesday with a minimum bid of ¥1.9 million.
Many Twitter accounts have obtained user IDs containing Tokyo2021 this month, with one account saying it was “reserved.”
The official name for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is expected to remain Tokyo 2020 despite the postponement, and the domain names for the official websites are also likely to stay the same.
One of the look-alike domains is posing as an official ticketing site.
“There is a possibility that the sites may turn into phishing sites which steal credit card numbers and other information,” Mori warned.
Your news needs your support
Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.