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Japan prepares to host three world-class sporting events

Japan prepares to host three world-class sporting events

With Japan now confirmed as hosts for the 2019 Rugby Union World Cup (announced on 28 July), and with a strong proposal for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups well under way, BTN Asia Pacific Editor Daniel Rourke is in Japan to investigate its next major bid. The hosts for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be announced by the XXXI Olympiad Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark on 2 October, with Tokyo tipped as the city to beat.

Based on figures from the Beijing 2008 games, Japan could expect to see estimated profits of over $146 million, a figure that will depend not only on the efficiency of Japan’s bid itself, but on the collective economic drive of sports and business organisations based in Tokyo and surrounding regions.

Japan’s bid demonstrates the far-reaching economic potential of global sporting events. In a city of over 14 million residents Tokyo’s bid has impressed the Olympic select committee with a proposal for the most green and ‘compact’ Olympic Games ever. Developed alongside the capital’s 10-year environmental project, ‘Tokyo’s Big Change’, sites around Tokyo Bay and elsewhere will enjoy a green make-over, with vast tree plantation schemes and an overall aim to reduce carbon emissions in the city to 3-4% of Tokyo’s current annual emissions.

As well as improving one of the most efficient city train networks in the world, 2016 will see the completion of a series of road, air and water upgrades aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the city and improving overall access to the proposed Olympic sites and the down town region.  It is here that an estimated 124,000 hotel rooms will be filled, making every grade of hotel and business in Tokyo a potential beneficiary of the Olympic proposal, whether Tokyo wins its bid or not.

Although Japan received the highest number of votes during the original selection process, it still has stiff competition from the three other hopeful hosting cities of Rio De Janeiro, Chicago and Madrid. With the 2019 Rugby World Cup now confirmed and with the co-hosting of the 2002 FIFA World Cup recently behind them, Japan are fully equipped as one of the world’s leading sports business and tourism destinations.


Rugby and soccer are rapidly growing sports in Japan and South East Asia and with an approximate expected revenue of $3.2 billion for the Rugby host nation, Japan will be in a strong position to qualify further large scale bids. The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be the first to be held in Asia, a move for the sports and business market that will benefit the whole region and bring new fans to the sport.

Japan’s bids for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups are conditional on Tokyo winning the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. If the Tokyo Olympic bid is successful Japan will take the opportunity to construct and renovate a compliment of stadiums across Japan that meet FIFA’s qualifying standards. Such a commitment to becoming host nation to the three biggest world sporting competitions, and three of the biggest international events of any kind, demonstrates Japan’s self identification as Asia’s ultimate sports and leisure destination. Not only would this position these key sporting competitions as truly global events, it would dramatically expand the economic landscape of Japan and Asia’s sports businesses.

While the Olympic bid is primarily focussed on Tokyo and surrounding regions, the Rugby Union World Cup will reach to the impressive cities of Osaka, Yokohama, Fukuoka and Kobe.  The world renowned Osaka Nagai athletics stadium is set to be a main stage for the Rugby whilst also a proposed site for the football (soccer) matches during the Olympics and hence part of Japan’s burgeoning FIFA bid. Venues will even stretch outside Japan’s borders with key matches proposed to be held in Singapore and Hong Kong, making the first ever Rugby World Cup held in Asia an opportunity for growth across the continent.

The 17 sponsors for the Olympic bid are a collection of the biggest corporate logos in Japan and further afield. Brand giants such as Asahi, Yahoo Japan and Bandai Co.  as well as top sporting apparel companies such as Asics will provide heavyweight backing, as will the numerous travel and airline companies lending support.  Japan Airlines, Ana Sky Web and JR-East Japan Railway Company are key figures, as are top travel operates Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) and Kintetsu International (KNT!).

Sports travel is a multi billion dollar industry and investment in this massive niche of tourism is set to increase exponentially over the coming decades. United with a growing concern for green tourism and business, as well as a modern drive to improve urban, inner-city environments, sports tourism is an economic force with potential far wider than the teams and fans it cares for.