Japan could see a $3.5 billion boost for hosting 2019's biggest sporting event

Key Points
  • $3.5 billion boost to Japan economy predicted from hosting 2019 Rugby Union World Cup.
  • 70 percent of the 2.5 million ticket requests received so far coming from outside of Japan.
  • It's the first time the Rugby Union World Cup is being held in Asia.
Japan to be first Asian country to host Rugby World Cup in 2019

Japan will be the first Asian country to host the Rugby Union World Cup in 2019 and its organizing committee has promised the tournament will be a uniquely Japanese event.

With the Olympics and Paralympics to come in 2020, officials feel the country is entering its "golden sporting years."

The Rugby Union World Cup is billed as the world's third-largest global sporting event, behind the Olympics and soccer World Cup, due to its participating nations, ticket sales and television audience.

Historically it has been hosted in traditional rugby hotspots, not least the 2015 version in England and in New Zealand four years earlier. Twelve stadiums across Japan will host the 43-day tournament beginning on September 20, 2019, and a tourism boom is being predicted by organizers, with 70 percent of the 2.5 million ticket requests received so far coming from outside of Japan.

"We've had some independent studies done and they predict that in British pounds there will be about £2.79 billion ($3.5 billion) of increased economic activity around the Rugby World Cup." Rugby World Cup Organizing Committee CEO Akira Shimazu exclusively told CNBC ahead of Japan's November international against England.

By contrast, 2018's soccer World Cup in Russia was predicted to have almost ten times that amount of economic impact on the host country.

"There is a short space of time between the events of the Rugby World Cup and then the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but in some ways that can be beneficial," Shimazu said.

Rugby Union has gained in popularity over the past decade in Japan with over 120,000 registered players in the country. Technology is expected to play a key role in this World Cup, including state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to be used as added security at matches, which will also feature at the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.

"There are many merits of having those two events so close to each other," Shimazu said. "France will have the same issues with the next Rugby World Cup and then the Olympics in Paris, so we're setting the bar very high for them, so they can carry on and follow our lead."

The New Zealand All Blacks perfrom the Haka during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match between South Africa and New Zealand.
Handout | Richard Heathcote | World Rugby| Getty Images

New Zealand has won the past two World Cups and will start as favorites again, with Ireland and England also tipped to do well. However, the U.S., Russia and Canada will be among the less-fancied nations also competing in the 20-team tournament.

Earlier this month Japan Head Coach Jamie Joseph said he was proud of his side, despite their 69-31 loss at the hands of reigning world champions New Zealand in front of a crowd of 43,751 at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium, which will also host the opening match of the 2019 World Cup.

He pointed to his team's five tries and other improvements ahead of the World Cup next year on home soil. Japan's men's team are known as "The Brave Blossoms" scored their record number of points against New Zealand having lost by an average margin of 84 points in the three previous meetings.

New Zealand boss Steve Hansen was also impressed by Japan's performance.

"Japan are getting better and better all the time," said Hansen, who was in charge when New Zealand crushed Japan 54-6 in 2013. "Anybody that came to the game today will have enjoyed what they saw from Japan; a bit of razzle-dazzle, quite a bit of physicality at times," Hanson said following the win on November 3.

Japan has never progressed out of the pool stages at a World Cup but, after its famous victory over former world champions South Africa in 2015, the host nation is now targeting at least the quarter-finals next year.

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