Rugby mania is coursing through Japan. It’s not just the sudden of burst of generously sized foreigners wandering around Tokyo, Sapporo and Kumamoto. Japan’s national team is beating virtually all expectations, even besting top-ranked Ireland.
Yet the Rugby World Cup is really a dry run for the main event of Shinzo Abe’s premiership: the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Hosting the Summer Games is a career topper for Abe, whose grandfather, the former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, brought the 1964 Olympics to Tokyo. Fifty-five years on, that event still enjoys a bull market in nostalgia. It marked Japan’s return to the world stage from the ashes of war and humiliating defeat.
And wow, did it ever. Japan’s futuristic bullet trains, avant-garde stadiums and neon-lit skylines captured the global imagination. The nation hadn’t just risen, phoenix-like, it was suddenly setting the technological tone, serving as a preview for Japan’s economic boom of the 1970s and 1980s.
Can Japan do it again? Doubtful. In fact, there are valid reasons to worry next year’s Olympics might do more to limit Japan’s potential than unleash it.
For Abe, scoring the Olympics was partly about unfinished family business. Though his beloved grandfather secured the 1964 Games, history has been less kind on account of Kishi’s wartime exploits. He was part of the cabinet of Hideki Tojo that ordered the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. In the mid to late 1930s, Kishi played various senior roles in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. It was a ghastly and brutal an episode as historians found amid World War II. Kishi beat the odds–and war-crime charges. He became prime minister in 1957.
Much of what’s driven Abe in politics can be described as Kishi legacy rehabilitation. In Abe’s first stint as leader from 2006 to 2007–and in the current one since 2012–he’s worked to whitewash Japan’s wartime aggression. Securing the 2020 Games was in part a historical bookmark to open yet another period of rebirth–this time from a two-decade deflationary malaise.
Might Japan be courting a post-2020 funk instead? I don’t just mean the debt-laden hangover from giant and costly facilities that will go underused. It’s more the 1964-like magical thinking behind the dialogue surrounding Tokyo 2020.
Indonesia’s bid for the 2032 Olympics has a certain logic. Surely, its infrastructure needs could benefit from becoming the fourth Asian nation to host the Games after Japan, South Korea and China. But Japan’s construction boom amounts to redundant upgrades to already highly developed megacities.
Japan has long since been discovered. A weaker yen, relaxed visa restrictions and aggressive marketing already morphed Japan into a tourism mecca. In 2018, Japan welcomed more than 31 million tourist arrivals, equal to one-quarter of the population. Already, cities like Kyoto are studying ways to limit tourism, or ease the side effects from overcrowding to pollution.
Asia’s No. 2 economy doesn’t need stadiums, but a societal transformation. It needs to rekindle its innovative spirits, increase gender diversity, reduce rigidities across industries, improve productivity and welcome more foreign talent to offset an aging and shrinking population–talent that stays on long after the five-ring circus of sporting events leaves town.
Abe views Tokyo 2020 as the key to the “revitalization of Japan.” The city’s governor, Yuriko Koike, says the Olympics can “usher in a new Tokyo.” But where are the underlying politics to bring about this epochal change? A few weeks of events will come and go. Japan, though, will be stuck with the same dismal demographics, the same crushing debt load, the same overbearing bureaucracy and the same risk aversion that starves it of a vibrant tech startup scene.
In the magical thinking of Abe’s inner circle, 2020 is a, well, game-changer. Just as 1964 was a chance for his grandfather’s generation to showcase technological advancements, 2020 is Abe’s moment to display Japan’s “Society 5.0” street cred. Trouble is, China, Korea and Indonesia also are moving upmarket and innovating. Indonesia, for example, has already produced twice as many “unicorns” as Japan.
Japanese society often does a poor job keeping up with technological change. A few weeks of medal ceremonies, it’s worth noting, will do little to restore Japan to its 1980s innovative greatness. It won’t increase productivity, internationalize corporate practices or end senior-based promotion practices that reward mediocrity. It won’t morph Tokyo into a global financial center or endear Japan Inc. stocks to overseas investors.
The Olympics won’t usher in a pro-growth energy policy that moves Japan away from coal and nuclear reactors. It won’t prod millennials or General Z members to take greater risks. It won’t narrow the gender pay gap or challenge Japan’s patriarchy. And it won’t incentivize companies to boost wages, kicking off the virtuous cycle Abe hoped to generate.
Only bold, forward-looking reforms can generate the upgrades needed to restore Japan to vitality. The economics of nostalgia in which Abe’s government is indulging only treats the symptoms of why Japan’s economy has underperformed for 20 years.
Sure, Japan is politically and societally stable. Nor have deflation and stagnant wages led to the kind fissures–crime remains low and homelessness rare–they might emerge elsewhere. But in the Chinese era, Japan has two choices. One, accept lower living standards as regional upstarts boom. Two, ramp up innovation that creates new jobs and wealth.
Clearly, option No. 2 is the wiser route. But if Tokyo thinks the Olympics is the answer, it’s setting itself up for failure. How did the 2016 Games work out for Brazil? Or 2012 for a United Kingdom torching its future with the brawl over Brexit?
Did the 2008 Games revolutionize China, which has become even more of a black box since then? In 2004, Greece won a gold medal for overspending and hastened the onset of a financial crisis from which it’s still extricating itself.
Japan isn’t courting a crisis. But history is almost sure to show that the seven years between winning the Games in 2013 and the actual event were a lost period for major policy moves to ensure forward motion. Japan needs to level the playing fields, not just provide a few for visiting athletes.
I am a Tokyo-based journalist, former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.” My journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary.
Next stop: Tokyo! The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang just had their closing ceremony and that means the world turns it’s attention to Japan. The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games are 2 years away, and here is what we know right now. ▶︎ WHEN ARE THE TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC GAMES? July 24, 2020 to August 9, 2020 ▶︎ The New National Stadium It’s built on the same site as the 1964 Olympic Stadium. Designed by Kengo Kuma, it’s a very natural design surrounded by a lot of trees and parks. ▶︎ The Venues: There are 34 Venues separated into 2 zones. ▶︎ Heritage and Tokyo Bay: The Heritage zone is where the 1964 Olympics took place. Tokyo Bay is where the aquatics center, BMX and Skateboard course will be as well as other event. There are 12 events outside of these zones including foot / soccer, baseball, basketball. ▶︎ Ticket Prices for Tokyo 2020 Olympics: The average ticket price will be 7,700 yen ($72) and the opening and closing ceremonies will be between 25,000 yen ($235) and 150,000 yen ($1,400). Tickets will be sold online and at designated ticket centers in Tokyo. There are 33 sports for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics including 5 new ones: Aquatics, Archery, Athetics, Badminton, Baseball / Softball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Field Hockey, Football / Soccer, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Judo, Karate Modern pentathlon, Rowing, Rugby sevens, Sailing, Shooting, Skateboarding, Sport climbing, Surfing, Table tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling Within these sports, there are 324 events. Football / soccer actually starts 2 days before the opening ceremonies. URL: https://tokyo2020.org/en/ ★ ONLY in JAPAN on instagram: http://instagram.com/onlyinjapantv Music credits: “Running Fanfare” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b… Enter the Party by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…) Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-… Artist: http://incompetech.com/
When Coco Gauff drilled a crosscourt backhand passing shot during the first set of her match Thursday night at the US Open, the crowd in Louis Armstrong Stadium roared its approval.
About two hours later, the crowd, which included Kobe Bryant and C.C. Sabathia, roared again when Gauff ended a raucous, back-and-forth match by finishing off qualifier Timea Babos of Hungary, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 23 minutes to advance to the third round on Saturday.
There Gauff will likely make her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut against world No. 1 and defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka. The 15-year-old Gauff has now made $163,000 by advancing to the third round of her home Slam. She’s the youngest player to reach the third round at the Open since Anna Kournikova made the fourth in 1996.
“I don’t have any thoughts on it right now because I have to play doubles tomorrow with Caty [McNally] so I’m really focused on that,” Gauff told the crowd of the Osaka match. “Saturday I’m going to think about the match but tomorrow I’m worried about my doubles match.”
Osaka, who beat Serena Williams in last year’s controversial final, looked ahead to Gauff after her 6-2, 6-4 victory earlier Thursday over Magda Linette.
“Yeah, she’s super sweet and I would love to play her, of course,” Osaka said. “For me, when I hear people talking about someone, I want to have the opportunity to play them just to assess it for myself.”
Timea Babos, of Hungary, yells after winning a point against Coco Gauff, of the United States, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Gauff was the biggest story at the Open on Thursday night, especially after Rafael Nadal won his match in a walkover and never played his night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Tennis was played there but fans with grounds passes and general admission seating flooded in to the upper bowl of Armstrong to focus on Gauff, who made a magical run to the fourth round of Wimbledon earlier this summer.
But this is New York, not Wimbledon. And Gauff is showing she can make it here, too.
At one point as she was serving during the second set, the 7-train loudly rolled by behind Gauff but it didn’t seem to bother her at all. She held serve without issue.
Throughout the match, fans came and went from their seats even as play was beginning, perhaps to pick up an evening cocktail or two.
“It’s been amazing,” she said of the atmosphere. “Timea, she played so good and I’m so happy that I was able to get through, she played amazing.
“I was tested a lot. I think we were both just testing each other. If I didn’t win that last point maybe she would’ve won the match. It was just that type of match where anyone could have won.”
Bryant, who watched Osaka’s match alongside Colin Kaepernick, jumped into the ESPN booth for the Gauff match and heaped praise on the 15-year-old.
“At 15, God knows I wasn’t like that,” Bryant, a former teenage star himself, said on air.
He was asked to expound upon the differences between an individual sport like tennis and a team sport like basketball.
He said that in tennis you’re “constantly negotiating with yourself,” whereas “in team sports you have guys that can pick you up.”
Earlier he said he was impressed by Gauff’s poise and composure at such a young age.
“She’s a phenomenon for sure,” he said.
Coco Gauff, of the United States, eyes the ball during a match against Timea Babos, of Hungary, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Gauff is already surrounded by an elite inner circle that includes Patrick Mouratoglou, who coaches Serena Williams and is advising Gauff, and Tony Godsick, Roger Federer’s agent. Both sat in her player box.
“The things in common is they have to go into the match with the right mindset,” Mouratoglou said on air of Gauff and Williams. “But the right mindset for Coco is different for Serena.”
He added that for Gauff, that meant being “happy about what she’s doing,” whereas for Williams it was “more intellectual and more tactical.” Williams has to “fight against the pressure that is enormous on her shoulders.”
Williams, of course, continues to bid for career major No. 24, having lost three Grand Slam finals since becoming a mother, one of which came to Osaka in last year’s US Open final.
Now it will be Gauff who gets a shot at Osaka, the 21-year-old two-time major champion who has what Gauff eventually wants.
“Naomi Osaka is waiting in the wings,” 18-time Grand Slam champion Chrissie Evert said on air. “That is going to get everybody pumped up if that happens.”
I’m a Basketball Insider and tennis writer. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), I am also the author of two books and an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. My articles have appeared in SLAM, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. I also won an Emmy award for my work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, I have competed in numerous National and World Championships. My Death or Glory (DoG) team won the GGM World Championship in 2018, and my teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championship in 2011 and 2013. I live in Manhattan with my wife and children.
Kofi Kingston and Seth Rollins are two of the most beloved stars in WWE, but they haven’t drawn well as world champions.
Wrestling statistician and Twitter user @nWoWolfpacTV recently compiled and analyzed data regarding average domestic live event attendance during the Universal title reign of Rollins and the ongoing WWE Championship reign of Kingston.
He found that domestic house shows headlined by Rollins averaged just 3,334 fans, lower than Jinder Mahal’s universally panned 2017 WWE title reign. Similarly, Kingston-headlined events had, as of July 18, averaged just 2,940 fans per show, which would make him “the fourth worst drawing in company history in this regard” behind Kurt Angle, Booker T and Eddie Guerrero.
So, what’s this mean? Well, it’s hard to tell.
However, Kingston and Rollins are probably not the actual problem as both stars rank among WWE’s most popular acts and its biggest merchandise sellers. The issue with the decreased attendance during their world title reigns stems from larger problems with WWE’s creative process and its live event event strategy, which is something that needs to change.
According to WWE’s Q1 Key Performance Indicators, domestic live event attendance dropped 11% between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, averaging just 4,800 fans in the first quarter of 2019, a massive drop of 25% from the 6,400 per show it averaged in the second quarter of 2017. Attendance was down yet again in Q2, as were TV ratings for both Raw and SmackDown.
Vince McMahon raised some eyebrows when he blamed WWE’s disappointing Q1 2019 results—which included significant drops in Raw ratings, SmackDown ratings and the WWE Network subscriber count as well—on “superstar absences” because stars coming and going has always been and will continue to be a reality.
In response to the underwhelming live event attendance, McMahon added a slew of new hires to WWE’s creative and live event teams and had the following to say about revamping its live event strategies (from The Motley Fool via Wrestling Inc)
“We’ve hired new people in writing team that are really going to help us out in terms of television ratings and digital, social, all that sort of stuff, we’ve got a new team in terms of live events that have just started now. So we’ll see the live events going to continue on an upward trend.”
That upward trend just hasn’t happened, though.
During that same one-year span in which live event attendance plummeted, so too did Raw viewership (down 25% between WrestleMania 34 and 35) and SmackDown viewership (down about the same). By the end of Q2, Raw ratings were down 14% over the previous year while SmackDown’s were down by 11% as live event attendance dropped by 2%.
Those dips in TV viewership and live event attendance were less indicative of the drawing power of WWE’s world champions, including Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Kingston and Rollins and more indicative of WWE’s lackluster programming, which had struggled to consistently put on entertaining feuds and storylines.
As a result of those sizable dips, WWE will reportedly reduce the number of live events in 2020 amidst reports that Roman Reigns even suggested WWE have an off-season. Though that is unlikely to happen, the substantial decreases in live event attendance do speak to a bigger problem.
It’s not a star power issue—WWE has more talent than ever before currently under contract. It’s not an issue directly caused by Rollins or Kingston either, though they’re easy scapegoats.
The bottom line is that when the WWE Network was launched in 2014, it effectively put an end to the days of champions being individual draws. Unless your name is John Cena and you’re a massive star who is able to make huge differences in live event attendance, it’s largely going to be up to WWE’s creative team to make fans want to go to non-televised house shows. How does that happen?
By booking a quality product, with great matches and feuds on TV, that make fans want to go see live events that really don’t impact the TV product in any way. The better WWE’s TV product is and the more major stars it has based on how they are presented on TV, the more fans will want to pay to go see them wrestle at a non-televised event.
It’s no secret that WWE’s TV product has, for the most part, been quite lackluster in 2019, which is probably a better explanation as to why Rollins and Kingston have floundered as champions in terms of their drawing ability. Rollins’ entire title reign was spent battling Baron Corbin in a feud that was downright awful at times on a Raw brand that didn’t really build up any other exciting rivalries, either.
Kingston, meanwhile, has actually been booked well as WWE Champion but is on WWE’s clear No. 2 brand, has spent the past 11 years as a tag team and midcard performer and also just so happens to be the WWE Champion at a time when SmackDown has been plagued by bad storylines, like the never-ending push of Shane McMahon.
Blaming WWE’s lackluster attendance on Rollins and Kingston is the easy way out, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. A wide variety of factors, ranging from poor creative choices to WWE’s failures to create truly mainstream stars, are the real culprits here.
I’m a contributor for the SportsMoney team at Forbes, where I’ll examine the interesting effect that sports have on business…and vice versa. I graduated from Louisiana State University in 2010 with a degree in journalism and a minor in English, and during my time in Baton Rouge, I worked for Tiger Weekly, a newspaper focusing on LSU athletics. Upon graduation, I spent more than three years as a columnist for a well-known national sports Web site. Name a sport, and I’ve probably written about it at some point in my life. My goal at Forbes is to analyze the shrinking space between sports and business, and of course, to stir up the discussion. After all, what fun would sports be if no one ever talked about them?
The 83rd Masters will go down as one of the most memorable events in modern golf history.
Many fans point to Jack Nicklaus’ unexpected run to a sixth green jacket in 1986 at 46 years old as the ultimate Augusta moment, but Tiger Woods, who has been chasing Nicklaus’ legacy his entire career, might have just topped the Golden Bear.
Woods, decked in his trademark red, won the Masters by one stroke Sunday, holding off a stacked leader board of seasoned, elite golfers. It was a moment that many sports fans thought would never happen after a series of back surgeries pushed Woods to the brink of retirement.
Americans love to see their brightest stars fall, and few have fallen from a higher point than Woods, who was the most marketable athlete on the planet for a decade-plus. But the one thing Americans seem to love even more is the redemption story. Sports fans had waited 11 years for Woods to take another step toward Nicklaus’ hallowed record of 18 major titles.
Woods’ Tour Championship win last year was an indicator of what was to come, and he’s once again a marketing force. Woods and Phil Mickelson had a $9 million winner-take-all pay-per-view event in November, and Woods signed a multiyear content deal last fall with Discovery’s new over-the-top streaming service, GolfTV. He will do weekly golf instructional videos and is set to do a series of showdown-type events in Asia as part of the Discovery partnership.
Here are some of the numbers behind Woods and his history at Augusta.
4: Back surgeries for Woods.
5: Wins at Augusta for Woods, but the most recent was 14 years ago. It is the longest gap between Masters wins ever.
11: It has been just shy of 11 years since Woods won his last major tournament (2008 U.S. Open).
11: Number of times Woods has won the Player of the Year award.
43: Woods is the second-oldest Masters champion, with only Nicklaus having been older when he put on the green jacket.
81: Career PGA Tour wins for Woods, one shy of Sam Snead’s record.
281: Consecutive weeks Woods was ranked No. 1 in the world between 2005 and 2010.
$1.19 million: Payout for a bettor who put down $85,000 at 14/1 odds at William Hill’s Las Vegas sportsbook on Woods to win. “It’s great to see Tiger back. It’s a painful day for William Hill—our biggest golf loss ever—but a great day for golf,” says Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill U.S.’s director of trading.
$2.07 million: Woods’ prize money for the 2019 Masters win.
Badminton is one of the oldest sports in the world, having existed since the 16th century. It is an indoor sport marked by the simplicity of its mechanics and is popular in Asian countries such as India and China. In playing, the goal is to use a racket to hit the shuttle so that it passes over the net and reaches the opponent’s side of the court. When a player succeeds in doing this, a rally is won. The player with more rallies wins the game.Read more…..
With thousands of people gearing up to run the iconic Auckland Marathon this Sunday, there’ll be a lot of pasta-eating and nervous scrambling happening in Kiwi homes on Saturday night. You’ve done your training, now it’s time to relax. Trust the hard work you’ve put into this over the last few months. Here are five last minute tips before you toe the start line on Sunday morning…….
Boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez scored one of the biggest paydays in the history of sports in the wee hours of Wednesday morning when he signed a deal with sports streaming service DAZN for 11 fights over the next five years. The deal is worth a minimum of $365 million, an average of $33 million per fight, according to his promoter Golden Boy Promotions. Alvarez will kick off his DAZN deal December 15 at Madison Square Garden against Rocky Fielding, and then likely fight again in early May for a Cinco de Mayo match. With the two DAZN fights…….
The 2018 women’s U.S. Open final had the potential to showcase incredible tennis. Serena Williams was making a bid to tie Margaret Court’s record for 24 Grand Slam titles. Naomi Osaka, 16 years her junior, was vying to be the first Grand Slam winner from Japan. Instead, we saw a lot of drama, controversy and a stark example of how focusing on who’s right or wrong can prevent us from getting what we really want. Over the course of the match, umpire Carlos Ramos issued a warning, a point penalty and a game penalty against Serena for violations of the grand slam code of conduct……
Serena Williams has the most beautiful service toss in tennis—aesthetically pleasing, effortlessly smooth, the ball gently leaving the left hand of a player whose game is anything but gentle. Beautiful, too, in the functional sense of being everything a service toss should be at the highest level of the game, which simply, yet not so simply, comes down to being consistent and functional. Serena drubbed her sister Venus on Friday night, 6–1, 6–2, because her toss was preternaturally consistent and spectacularly functional.