Exclusive: 2019 Rugby World Cup CEO Stresses Collaboration Between Japan 2019 and Tokyo 2020

November 26, 2014

By Christian Radnedge

The ceo of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan has insisted that his event will not be competing with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for attention and focus of planning in his country.

Akira Shimazu was speaking to iSportconnect at the IRB Conference in London this week, therapy where Rugby’s governing body completed their rebranding to World Rugby.

Much of the talk at the conference centered around next year’s World Cup in England. However, no rx the excitement was palpable for the first edition of the tournament in Asia in five years’ time.

Japan won the right to host the World Cup in 2009. But just four years later, ed the country had another to plan as Tokyo was announced as the host of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games by the International Olympic Committee.

Since then the National Stadium in Tokyo, which was already being developed for the World Cup, will now form a major part of the Olympics as it will host the athletics competitions.

Shimazu was adamant that both organising committees were working toward a common goal and not competing to secure the best deals for their respective events.

“One of the interesting characteristics of having the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is that the following year it will be followed by the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo” he said.

RugbyWorldCup_2019“We’ve said it’s the following year but actually because the Rugby World Cup will be held in September, October, November and the Olympics will start in July the following year, it’s only six months between the two major sports events.”

“To have these huge major sports events within such a short time frame presents us with various challenges.

“Because it is so short, it’s almost as if our two committees are working simultaneously and we really want to make sure they won’t be competing against each other.

“The two events will be supporting one another; we’ll be working in collaboration with each other to make sure it will be a smooth operation for both events.”

Of course the World Cup is not just focused on Tokyo, though.

World Rugby has recommended 10 to 12 venues for the whole tournament and Shimazu revealed that interest from various cities has exceeded expectation, with 14 coming forward by the end of October.

He therefore was counting on a big tourism boost for the country, adding his belief that rugby fans would be keen to travel around the island nation.

“I really think that rugby fans are a little bit different to fans from other sports,” Shimazu explained.

“I think that rugby fans are more interested in the actual culture of the country they are visiting. They want to go and have drinks and visit the locals, they want to travel around and see different places.

“They’re interested in cultural things as well as just the actual sport itself and that’s something we saw in New Zealand and I’m sure that will happen in Japan too.”

RugbyWorldCupTrophyjpgAlongside World Rugby’s head of Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin, Shimazu admitted to reporters at London’s Hilton Metropole that selling tickets to the event would be a challenge as Japan is not a traditional “rugby heartland”.

But he insisted his team were up to the task.

He said: “Our biggest challenge is that the Rugby World Cup being held in Japan is actually the ninth World Cup, however it’ll be the first one that will be held in a new territory of Asia.

“It’s also the first that will be hosted by a non-tier one union.

“So there are challenges within that but we want to build on the experiences of all the hosting committees that have come before us and make sure that this one is a success so that it will open up horizons for non-tier one unions and it will help to be a really good platform to further develop rugby on a global scale.”

Gilpin said: “We have the opportunity to use this World Cup as a springboard for the growth of our sport, not just in Japan but in Asia as a whole and that’s what we have to embrace in 2019.”

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