Rio Olympics and Paralympics

This month blog comes from Nobuaki Koshikawa at the Positive Impact Japan Secretariat - helping us create a sustainable event industry in Japan and globally. 

An Imperfect Yet Satisfying Games

The Japanese team put in some excellent performances, and by the time the curtain closed on the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, they had arguably generated more attention than in any Olympics in recent years. While concerns were cited of a lack of preparation before the Games opened and some problems remained when the events were underway, once things kicked off the positive and relaxed atmosphere created by event staff combined to strengthen the Rio Games image and energize the proceedings. When it comes to the Olympics and Paralympics, people tend to think that nothing short of perfect is demanded and focus on the negatives, but in the end, if those difficulties can be overcome with people power, there is no need to aim for a perfect score. Framed in that way, it struck me that most of the issues currently cropping up in Japan are not all that serious, and that making an effort to capitalize more on the positives Japan has to offer will boost the level of satisfaction.

This doesn’t only apply to operational concerns; the same goes for visitors. While there were some venues with notably unfilled seats even at the Olympics and this was even more pronounced at some Paralympics events, we also saw Brazilian spectators who could cheer as loudly as several people and who offered a thunderous applause to excellent performances from athletes of any country, producing the feel of a fully-packed venue. Since even Olympic sports can struggle to attract audiences these days in Japan, we can see efforts to expand and capture a greater fan base and have the custom of enjoying sports take root. While promotions to ensure packed venues are also important, I got the strong sense that it is equally important to foster a spirit with the capacity to enjoy sports with a respect that goes beyond Japanese competitors and the world’s top athletes.

Related Events Attract Diverse Forms of Participation

There are many aspects to be enjoyed apart from the actual Olympic and Paralympic events. From live sites that bring together public viewing, stage programs, food, drink and activities, to sponsor pavilions, certification programs that fuse the culture and art of the host nation and national houses that highlight the respective sports and cultures of participating nations, many related programs are held. During the Olympics, many of these events generated long lines for entry, but during the Paralympics, they took place at a smaller scale or were withdrawn altogether. Since the number of visitors had decreased in absolute terms, the empty space was all the more apparent.

For the 2020 Games in Tokyo, the integration of the Olympics and Paralympics has been cited as important. While cost effectiveness is also a key concern for holding events, I sincerely hope that the related events are also combined for the 2020 Games. If extra space is created during the holding of the Paralympics, I can’t see why local governments, public entities and groups such as NGOs and NPOs can’t make use of the opportunity to announce participation programs.

The 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo are now less than four years away. I think one solution to all these issues is to avoid focusing solely on the Olympics and Paralympics and instead regard this as a tremendous opportunity to energize sports as a whole, produce the fresh perspective of “Sports + some x-factor,” foster the foundations of enjoyment and have a genuine sports culture take root.

 

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