UK Firms Attend Global Sports Mission to Japan

UK firms enter the race for Japan Rugby World Cup and Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games contracts. Watch our video and read our in-depth article to find out more. 

British Expertise in Global Sporting Events

British companies with expertise and know-how in the sporting arena are looking to get ahead of the competition in the run-up to Japan hosting two of the largest international events on the global sporting calendar: The 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A 19-strong trade mission under the banner of Sport is Great Britain visited Japan in late November and discovered a high degree of interest in the companies’ skills, in large part because they were perfected when London hosted the Olympic Games so successfully in the summer of 2012.

Jointly delivered by UK Trade & Investment and the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, the mission was held in the spirit of the Global Sports Host-to-Host Agreement that was signed when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited London and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park earlier this year.

Under the agreement, Britain has since 2013 been sharing a wide range of experiences and lessons learned during the 2012 games, ranging from Games organization and management to venues, infrastructure, security, sustainability, design and legacy issues.

Global Sports Mission to Japan

Addressing the delegates at the outset of their four-day visit, British Ambassador Tim Hitchens said, “Sport is a national passion in the United Kingdom; it brings us together and it inspires us.

“And thanks to major investment in sport over the years, the United Kingdom now has a solid reputation for its ability to organise sports events on a global scale,” the ambassador said.

“I was delighted when Tokyo won the right to host the Olympic Games in 2020,” he added. “It creates a unique moment for cooperation between Japan and the United Kingdom, as we are the recent and upcoming hosts of both the Summer Olympics and the Rugby World Cup.”

And even though 2019 and 2020 are a while off yet, British firms’ experience shows that now is the time to start making plans.

“Decisions need to be made now because it will take time to deliver the more difficult projects,” said David MacAtamney, managing director of Coventry-based Stadium Traffic Management Ltd.

“A lot of what needs to be done at this point is looking at transportation links, how they are going to service all the venues – even if some of them are only going to be temporary venues – and how to ensure best practices, cost-effectiveness and so on,” MacAtamney said.

Stadium TM played a leading role in the provision of security, stewarding, traffic management and training at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and continues to work with a number of leading football clubs in Britain, including Liverpool.

It also brought its talents to bear in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and is in constant demand for security at other events, including large-scale music concerts.
“In Japan, I’m very much hoping to link up with a Japanese company or university to work on the training for traffic management and stewarding side of what we do,” said MacAtamney.

“We are aware that there are already companies here that are doing this sort of thing, but when the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics come to town, then they are going to need a lot more people to help and, more importantly, they will need companies like us with the experience and skills acquired in having done this sort of thing before.”

Designwerk Making its First Foray into the Japanese Market

Another company making a first foray into the Japanese market is Designwerk, one of the world-leaders in strategic brand communications, including event branding, publications, marketing collateral, exhibition spaces, in-screen graphics and digital tools.

Based in London, the firm has an impressive client list – UEFA, the America’s Cup, The Premier League and the R&A Golf are all on board – and Designwerk has won 28 international awards for its clients over the last year.

“I do not believe there is sufficient perception of what is required here yet,” said Cristian Cook, founder and CEO of Designwerk. “They are very organised and precise, but they don’t really have enough people with the experience of handling events on this scale.

“At this point, it’s all about learning from your mistakes, about how they are going to overcome the problems they have not foreseen, how they are going to be able to save money and how they are going to be able to exploit the opportunities in a more cohesive way,” he said.

An Opportunity Ready for the Taking

Members of the mission, which was headed by Mike Brown, managing director for London Underground, which played a critical role in the 2012 event, were given a tour of some of the sites that have been earmarked for Olympic venues in 2020. At present, however, most are little more than empty sites awaiting the first spade in the ground.

They were also invited to attend the Legacy Co-Creation Forum 2014, while comprehensive briefings were provided by the organising committees for both the Japan Rugby World Cup and Tokyo 2020.

For companies that know the scale of the task ahead of Japan, the commencement of work cannot come soon enough. And British firms are ready to share their knowledge.

For all the latest news, articles and videos regarding upcoming businesss opportunities for the 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, please see our Olympics 2020 sector page.

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Article by Julian Ryall, December 2014