Sushi, swimming and SMAP the keys to a successful Tokyo Olympics: survey

As the world counts down to the Rio Olympics and Tokyo prepares to take the mantle of Olympic city, Rakuten Research checked in with 1,000 of their 2.3 million registered monitors to gauge sentiment about the 2020 Games. From security concerns to the desire to see film director Takeshi Kitano play a role in the opening ceremony, the results provide a snapshot of the public’s concerns and hopes as their capital prepares to follow Rio into the Olympic spotlight.

On the whole, it seems a majority of the Japanese public is positive about hosting the games – but only just. 51% of respondents answered they are either “looking forward” of “very much looking forward to” Tokyo hosting the games in six years’ time, compared with just 20.9% answering that they are not looking forward to them.

The reasons for the excitement varied between the sexes. Women appear to look forward to the spectacle as a whole, with 65.6% of those who are looking forward to the games doing so because “it’s a special event held only once every few years.” Meanwhile, for the men, Olympics excitement is more closely tied to a love of sport. 64% of men looking forward to the games do so because they’re “interested in sports.”

Swimming the most highly anticipated sport

Of all the sports on offer, swimming is the most highly anticipated by the Japanese public. Of those respondents who indicated they would like to attend a sport during the Tokyo Games, 42.5% said they’d go for swimming, an identical 38.6% named track & field and soccer, while 31.7% said they hoped to attend the gymnastics.

Hoping to showcase Japan’s traditional arts

Meanwhile, respondents also hoped foreign visitors to the games would have the chance to savor not only Japan’s sporting prowess, but its culture, too. When asked what aspects of Japanese culture they wanted to promote to inbound visitors during the games, 55.9% named “traditional arts,” 52.5% said “the spirit of Japan” and 47.4% suggested “Japanese cuisine.”

Younger respondents were more inclined to name “manga and anime” as focuses for promotion – 29.3% of respondents in their 20s and 33.7% of respondents in their 30s naming one of Japan’s most famous exports.

Takeshi Kitano, SMAP for starring roles

Rakuten Research also asked for suggestions on who should produce the all-important opening ceremony and who should have the honor of singing the national anthem.

Internationally acclaimed film director Takeshi Kitano, known in particular for hard-boiled yakuza films such as Hana-bi (1997) and Outrage (2010), received the largest number of votes for producing the opening ceremony. Perhaps respondents are hoping for another film tie-in in the fashion of the well-received James Bond segment in the London Olympics’ opening ceremony?

Theatrical producers Amon Miyamoto, and Koki Mitani also garnered a significant number of votes.

Meanwhile, super-popular boy band Arashi garnered votes not only for opening ceremony producer duties but as singers of the national anthem. Still, they lost out in that vote to SMAP, another “boy band” from the same Johnny & Associates stable whose average age on the day of the 2020 Games’ opening ceremony Olympics will be 45.

Other artists who received votes for anthem-duties included rock music icon Keisuke Kuwata and traditional singer and composer veteran Saburo Kitajima.

Security a concern

Still, many respondents felt a lot of work was necessary to ensure Tokyo’s Olympics are a success. Perhaps reflecting rising international concern about terrorism, a significant majority (62.3%) of respondents answered that “improved security” was necessary. Meanwhile, improving accommodation infrastructure (51.6%) and alleviating traffic congestion (50.4%) were also nominated as high priorities in preparations.

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