Unlike sports competitions such as the FIFA - or the Rugby World Cup that are national events and therefore held in various regions of the host country, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are, in principle, assigned to one single city.
The Rugby World Cup 2019 took place in 12 different stadiums throughout Japan, with the opening game between the host nation and Russia at the Tōkyō Stadium in Tōkyō on 20th September and the final at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama yesterday evening. South Africa won 32 – 12 over England adding after 1995 and 2007 a third victory to its rugby history. At first, the New National Stadium, constructed for the Tōkyō 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, was supposed to be the primary venue of the event. However, as the initial design was scrapped in 2015, the stadium could not be completed in time.
Traditional sports such as sumo, judo or karate and Western imports like baseball or soccer count among the most popular across the archipelago. Played and cheered by a comparatively small part of the population, rugby is a rather uncommon activity and the interest of holding its World Cup could therefore be questioned. As a matter of fact, the tournament has since its invention in 1987 been run in countries that are more familiar with the sport and Japan marked by hosting in 2019 its debut in Asia.
The coordination of a World Cup is different from the one of the Olympic and Paralympic Games where the responsibility lies in the hands of one particular city. However, given that matches such as the opening game and the final are usually held in the same host countries’ main stadiums, the events eventually correlate.
In the run-up to the next Olympic and Paralympic Games, official test events are organised by International and National Federations as well as the Tōkyō 2020 Organising Committee. The Japanese capital has created READY STEADY TOKYO as an official brand name and logo. From September 2018 to May 2020, 56 competitions will be held, out of which more than half are on the occasion of events that happen to take place during the period, and 22 solely Olympic and Paralympic dedicated. They serve as a rehearsal to confirm and improve the venues in order to ensure a successful operation during the Games. Most of them are kept moderate and so far, there was no large-scale ticketing. Therefore, the management of an elevated amount of people and related factors like security or the orientation of foreign tourists are difficult to verify beforehand.
By hosting the Rugby World Cup 2019, notably Tōkyō’s Olympic readiness got a test run and with the visit of some hundreds of thousands (sports) tourists over a short period of time, Japan could prove its capability to interact with international fans, as well as the efficiency of infrastructural elements such as signage in foreign languages. Furthermore, the management of the around 13,000 hired volunteers may be helpful in the preparation of the 80,000 Games and 30,000 City Volunteers.
The next Rugby World Cup will be held in France from 8th September to 21st October 2023, roughly one year before the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The final will take place at the Stade de France located in the commune of Saint-Denis in the north of the capital, which will also host the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics events in summer 2024.
The correlation between the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other sports competitions or mega-events is not a 21st century phenomenon, but the same succession of the Rugby World Cup and the Games is yet a premiere. Thus, being its precursor, Japan may relay more than only the Olympic Torch to France.