Replica shirts flew off the shelves Photo: AFP
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What can Tokyo 2020 Olympics learn from Rugby World Cup?

32 Comments
By Richard CARTER

In many ways, the Rugby World Cup was a mini dress rehearsal for Japan, as it gears up to host an even bigger sporting event next year: the Tokyo Olympics.

While there are many differences -- far fewer countries participated in the Rugby World Cup but it was spread out over 12 host cities -- there are some lessons Tokyo 2020 can learn from the tournament.

Contingency planning may not be enough

Rugby World Cup organizers spent hundreds of hours gaming out every possible scenario for what would happen if a typhoon, earthquake or volcano struck a venue in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active countries that is also battered by hurricanes each year.

In the end, even the worst-case scenario planning was insufficient as Hagibis, one of the largest and most powerful typhoons in recent years, reared up from the Pacific and took direct aim at Tokyo.

Changing venues was impossible as the storm covered practically the entire Japanese archipelago and organizers were forced to cancel three fixtures as Hagibis brought historic rains and ferocious winds that killed more than 80 people.

The Olympics are not being held during peak typhoon season (although the Paralympics are) but Tokyo is never safe from earthquakes and typhoons can strike most of the year round.

Tokyo 2020 has its own weather-related controversy to deal with as doctors have warned against top-level competition at the height of the Japanese summer when the heat and humidity are unbearable.

Japanese fans rock

Tokyo 2020 already has no concerns about filling the stadiums -- tickets could have been sold several times over -- and the Japanese fans melted many hearts at the Rugby World Cup.

While they may not have been familiar with all the finer points of rugby, they cheered enthusiastically and fairly for all the teams, creating a sensational atmosphere remarked upon by all competing nations.

A unique feature of the Rugby World Cup that could extend to Olympics events not familiar to Japan is how fans "adopted" another team.

Images of Japanese supporters gamely singing other national anthems -- including young children selected as mascots -- or trying the New Zealand haka war dance wowed the world and showed the omotenashi (Japanese welcome) Tokyo 2020 hopes to emulate.

Players responded, starting a trend of bowing deeply to the crowd as per Japanese tradition after every game.

Foreign fans (mostly) rock

Despite scare stories about rugby fans drinking Tokyo dry and flashing their tattoos in Japanese baths (strictly forbidden), the vast majority of foreign fans were impeccably behaved at the Rugby World Cup and added to the festival atmosphere.

However, some videos of drunken fans cavorting on public transport went viral on Japanese social media, leading some to warn of "improper" behavior when the Olympics come around.

While rugby fans are well-known for a healthy thirst, Olympic organizers may also find a clash of cultures between foreigners and the ultra-reserved Japanese when it comes to public drunkenness.

And it's not just the fans. Some Uruguay players appeared to have let the side down by allegedly trashing a nightclub after losing their final match, sparking legal action from the owner to reclaim thousands of dollars in damage.

Get the kit in

If the Rugby World Cup is anything to go by, Olympic organizers should make sure they are fully stocked on memorabilia and replica clothing.

Spurred by the brilliance of the home team, sales of the Brave Blossoms replica shirts exploded, with long queues forming outside specialist clothing shops several hours before they opened.

Stocks quickly ran dry, leaving many disappointed. And it was not just Japan team shirts that proved popular but Japanese fans lapped up shirts from all the top teams -- the famous All Black jersey a particular favorite.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


32 Comments
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The alcohol situation needs to be sorted. At the two matches I went to, there were long lines of people waiting for staff to fill up cups from 330ml cans of beer. The pace of service was glacial and annoying. Fortunately I snuck in a bottle of spiced rum.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Not much......if the local athletes do well the locals will follow en masse accordingly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Make sure you require all athletes to wear their medals whether its gold or not. England did not show any class or respect to their Japanese hosts for the tournament.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

There is a lot that can be said about ticket resales & touts, fanzones, more information in English & other languages, horrendous queues for toilets at Stadiums, etc.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The alcohol was decent putting aside the queues.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

What can we learn?

We’ve learned from the past and this time that there will be sore losers. The Uruguay team that damaged $50,000 worth of DJ equipment face criminal charges. The US Hockey team in the Nagano Winter Olympics crashed then trashed their living quarters. When a team loses and drinks, watch out?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The alcohol was decent putting aside the queues.

Sure it was, 1000 yen and 20 minute wait for a can and a half of poor quality tepid lager.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What can they learn?

when the heat and humidity are unbearable

Well, I just don't see how it can work. The crowds will just add to it. Some people will no doubt die and then what... carry on?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nothing you can do about the alcohol choice. Heineken were the sponsors.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

1,000 yen for 330ml of Heineken?

I think I’ll join Sean in the whining.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

horrendous queues for toilets at Stadiums

Hear, hear! Never seen anything like this tbh; 20-30min for the toilets at 20k hanazono (over 30min for the ladies) and just too many staff/volunteers telling ppl to wait/queue 'here' (we get it).

Probably also need to look into/beef up stadium security; 3 pitch invaders during the scotland vs samoa game, all security staff & volunteers (felt sorry for them) looked dumbfounded/scared (kudos to the steward who chased the 3rd bloke though). Point is they clearly were unprepared for this.

Re beer price, paid 1000 yen on week 1 & 700 yen at other games (all pool games).

Re J fans, agree that they were outstanding; one of the perk of having a rwc in a non-traditional rugby nation i reckon. No booing, no whistling, no insulting the ref etc.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Nothing you can do about the alcohol choice.

So apart from the price, the quality, the waiting time and the lack of choice it was all good. Smuggling still the best option.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Re beer price, paid 1000 yen on week 1 & 700 yen at other games (all pool games).

Really? I didn't know that as I didn't even bother trying for my 2nd game. How were they serving it? You'd think Heineken would have access to elaborate machinery such as kegs & pumps. They could have sold twice as much if they had their act together.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

cost of the rugby world cup ¥200 billion. Cost of the Olympics ¥2.700,000,000,000 or in words, ¥2.7 trillion. About $26 billion compared with London, $16 billion.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I saw lots of fans drinking Strongbow and Chu-Hi. Heineken wasn't the only available drink on offer.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

One thing we can learn from this: hold the Olympics in October! Just DO IT! Never mind the US networks that don't want their autumn sports schedules interrupted.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How were they serving it? You'd think Heineken would have access to elaborate machinery such as kegs & pumps. 

Cans poured into plastic cups (beer girls on the terraces and at the bar).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If I may say something, if the RWC had been in Doha a few weeks ago instead of the World Athletics, the stadia would not have been near empty as they appeared on TV. This is not a slight on athletics, swimming, and other Olympic centric sports, all of which are fine pursuits, but they do not attract the same level of passionate support as rugby or football (soccer). The Olympics will be a success I'm sure, on the surface every Olympics appears to be a success, but it will be more locals cheering on Japanese athletes. It won't "just be like the 2019 RWC".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

1,000 yen for 330ml of Heineken?

Something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

and the Japanese fans melted many hearts at the Rugby World Cup.

Is this an article or advertisement?

or trying the New Zealand haka war dance wowed the world and showed the omotenashi (Japanese welcome) Tokyo 2020 hopes to emulate

Please stop with the "omotenashi" This is just a catch all word being overused when some things go right!

I would say that with the rugby teams, Canada showed their "omotenashi" side just as well or better than the Japanese when they helped out after the typhoon!

Going to be hard for people in Tokyo to keep it up for a month, their patience wont last that long!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

ultra-reserved Japanese when it comes to public drunkenness

Wait wha

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Make sure you require all athletes to wear their medals whether its gold or not. England did not show any class or respect to their Japanese hosts for the tournament.

I'm a little confused here as to how England disrespected the host country Japan. Is there any rule in IOC which states that athletes must wear their medals?

They will proudly take their medals home to the UK.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Be prepared for natural disasters, be it super typhoon or 9.0 mega quakes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

lostrune2Today 08:28 pm JST

ultra-reserved Japanese when it comes to public drunkenness

Wait wha

My thoughts exactly. Obviously this writer has either not been in Japan long or only visits very select places. Public drunkeness esp on weekends can be witnessed in almost any city in all of it's technicolour glory.

Crazy drunken violent behaviour may well be less than some other places, but for getting plain rotten on drink, ultra reserved doesn't come within a "ruth" of it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

well, taking the silver medals off right after recieving them. thats just disrespectful. new zealand were more than happy to recieve bronze but england throw a tantrum and refuse to wear a second place medal due to the fact that they didnt win and didnt get to lift the trophey? pathetic. some teams went away from the tournament with nothing, give your medals to wales or austrailia, they would be much more grateful. england beat the all blacks and came so far and theres no pride in that? shame.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

A major success point was that the finals didn’t have an impact on daily life for residents which helped us all to enjoy the tournament freely. If the olympics are going to cause major disruption to residents and available facilities(for example in Setagaya) it’s causing resentment long before the games have started.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What can we learn?

We’ve learned from the past and this time that there will be sore losers. The Uruguay team that damaged $50,000 worth of DJ equipment face criminal charges. The US Hockey team in the Nagano Winter Olympics crashed then trashed their living quarters. When a team loses and drinks, watch out?

$50,000 ?

Somehow I don't think so.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We've learned that you need to hold such athletic events in October.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

We've learned that you need to hold such athletic events in October.

The weather in October hasn't been particularly good in recent years. Typhoons and dark skies. Japan is running out of suitable months. I propose the May 15th - June 1st window for the 2072 Olympics, it's the best fortnight of the year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Be prepared not to sit down comfortably when taking a dump....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What they learnt from the Rugby was it was hot and it's going to be stinking hot for the Olympics.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One thing we can learn from this: hold the Olympics in October! Just DO IT! Never mind the US networks that don't want their autumn sports schedules interrupted.

One USA network pays $1 billion for broadcasting rights. That’s just one. It’s the money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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