Many people often ask themselves about the whys of big events? Apart from having organized with one of our companies, Moveo Lab, more than 70 international events in Mexico in 26 sports the last 7 years, and having worked on Olympic and FIFA WC programs, I truly believe in the power of events for different reasons, and very objective ones. In this article, I will take the example of last Rugby World Cup, in Japan in 2019, which is said to have generated £4.3bn economic impact and added £2.3 billion to Japan’s GDP according to Ernst & Young report.
“Feel-Good” factor. In most cities where big events are hosted, there is a “feel-good” factor that benefits local and national communities and the event becomes “their” event. Look at this Rugby World Cup in Japan, 99% of tickets were sold, a total of 1.72 million ticket solds. 40% of domestic ticket buyers were people who had never before watched or rarely watched rugby. In that case, national pride was boosted by this successful event, also linked to the fact that national team did well, Nine out of 10 people in Japan got behind the national team on their run to the quarter-finals, reflecting a 33 per cent increase in ‘niwaka fans’ or new fans during the tournament. The 13.000 volunteers are also a great part of the feeling.
Business legacy: £2.3 billion spent by international visitors in the country. An estimated 242.000 people from 178 nations visited Japan for the tournament, with an average 16 nights’ stay, visiting an average 5 cities, and roughly 60% were visiting for the first time. And the event created 46.340 jobs. And a Rugby World Cup fan spent 4.6 times the average visitor to Japan.
Greater participation in the sport: this World Cup was the 1st one in Asia ever. 2.25 million people were introduced to Rugby in Asia via the Impact Beyong Programme (769.000 children involved in tag rugby in elementary schools in Japan. 43.1% of new Asian participants in the sport are girls / women. There was also a significant infrastructure legacy program for rugby and community sport, and control of spending with the use of existing infrastructures for most of it in the 12 cities.
Exposure as a tourist destination: in the business section, we spoke about the tourism impact during the event. But there are other factors. For example, TV Audience grew also up 26% globally versus 2015 and exposed Japan and its fantastic fans to the world. There were 2.04 billion views on social media during the tournament period (vs 370m views in 2015) and cumulative audience reached 857.28 m viewers around the globe.
Sadly, we are lacking events with the pandemic. There will be trends of hybrid (mix of virtual and physical events) and remote competitions, but still and always, big & smaller events are key to the sport. They inspire, they generate incomes, they unite people, they forge athletes and create heroes. I truly hope next Olympics in Tokyo will happen, and will be one of the biggest human celebration ever. We need it.
Let’s all keep working on hosting major events and grow sport!