The Tokyo Olympic Games are in just under six months’ time, and while Japan makes its last-minute preparations for the event, it also prepares to have a booming business year.
You may be left wondering how this can be a positive thing for the British market.
Well, the demand for British products has recently received a huge rise in Japan.
Exporting to Japan in 2020
Sales of British goods and services among Japanese consumers have soared over the last five years, with a growth as much as 32% in that timeframe. This is all thanks to the 2020 Olympics that is set to take place in Tokyo this coming July.
This week GOV have reported, “New figures published by the Office for National Statistics reveal that in the year leading to September 2019 the UK’s total exports to Japan reached nearly £15 billion, making it the UK’s 11th largest export market”.
British sporting firms have been supplying high-quality sporting equipment in aid of this year’s games. In a recent article GOV reports, “British sporting firms have been exporting high-quality equipment to help facilitate the games. The UK’s annual sports equipment exports to Japan have doubled over the past three years and are now worth over £4 million”.
It’s nothing new for British companies to be shipping over sporting equipment for major events like the upcoming Olympics, but it’s a major positive for our businesses to be doing it on such a mass scale. This is partly down to the fact that Team GB is expected to send its biggest ever overseas team to this year’s event.
Not only is this record number of athletes a great thing for businesses that need to kit them out with, clothing, training equipment and facilities, but it also gives Team GB a great chance of finishing high up in the medal table.
The Director of Performance in UK Sport, Chelsea War, said in a recent interview, “We want to see Team GB and Paralympics GB in the upper echelons of the medal table and we want to see more medals and more medallists to inspire the nation.”
“Of course we want to do well. And actually, we will. The team will do a really, really good job. But staying in the upper echelons of a medal table is no mean feat and boy it is tough to get there.”
A company from Lancashire are providing the suits, and much of the sporting attire to be worn by Team GB athletes during the Tokyo Olympics. That said company is retailer Simon Jersey, which has worked with Britain’s team of Olympians twice before on a smaller scale. The clothing athletes require isn’t only their representative kit worn while taking part in events, it’s also items that are worn during the opening ceremony, press touring, conferences, etc.
The product head of Simon Jersey, Selina Spence, recently told Lancashire Telegraph, “This is the third time we have worked with Team GB on suiting and with our online growth and ability to provide a bespoke Suit for all Athletes. We felt our partnership was important to continue through to Tokyo 2020.”
“We have worked closely with Team GB to ensure the suits are perfect for all athletes and coaches. This has involved us sending our teams out to sizing sessions with Tokyo 2020 hopefuls and developing blouses and shirting that complement the suit.”
This brand of clothing will be provided to athletes taking part in the Summer Olympic Games, as well as the Winter Olympics.
Building Overseas Bridges
The Guardian have reported that Team GB will need to do more than just provide a great medal display over in Japan this summer. They say Britain needs to build further connections over the course of the Olympics with Japan, and they’re absolutely right. In return for the accommodation the athletes will receive in Tokyo, Britain have planned to give something back and leave a lasting effect on the populous of the Japanese capital city.
The Guardian writes, “A team of local volunteers, dubbed “Go GB”, has been set up to offer support, there is a partnership with Keio University in Tokyo, which will provide accommodation and training facilities, and an elementary school will become the Team GB “performance lodge”, a centre for training in the run-up to the Games. In return the British plan not only to ingratiate themselves with the locals but to leave a “legacy” of refurbished real estate and sporting equipment”.
This could lead to crucial bridge-building between the two nations, laying the foundations for future trade negotiations. The Guardian summarises, “If some of this sounds like outreach in a time of diplomatic uncertainty, then Britain’s Olympic nabobs are not denying it”.
Britain will hope to make the most of this opportunity while continuing to try and negotiate trade agreements across a global market. If they can further connect with foreign markets, they won’t be so solely reliable on the United States after settling Brexit negotiations.
Keeping cool in Tokyo
One major concern about the Tokyo Olympics since it’s announcement has been the level of heat and humidity that athletes and attendees will have to endure over the course of the event. Though this has been seen as an issue that the Tokyo organising committee have had to try and find a solution for, many businesses are seeking to take advantage of this and sell goods that help to battle the weather conditions to people traveling from other areas of the globe.
Japanese food markets rightfully have their sights set on the Summer Olympics, hopefully to take advantage of the incoming scorching heat by selling ‘special ice cream’ made with Oishii Gyunyu brand milk and Bulgaria Yoghurt according to Japanese Times.
As the Japanese newspaper reports, this is a tried and tested method that has been trailed previously. They write, “In trial sales in July last year, the company sold out 400 servings of the ice cream in one day as it gained traction as an item enabling them to weather the fierce heat”.
The tactical approach doesn’t end there however. The marketing of these food trucks has been taken into consideration too. The signs displaying what items are being sold will be written in English, this is so English speaking audiences can be targeted and sales in-turn will be maximised.
As a reporter for JP states, “Measures to overcome language barriers are seen as another key to a successful Olympics. Major convenience store chain Family Mart Co. has started labelling the names of products such rice balls, bread and snacks both in Japanese and English. “We’ll use the English labelling for more items in the lead-up to the games” to help visitors from abroad, a public relations official said”.
This shows how the whole city will hope to profit from foreign visitors during the sporting event over the summer. This could breathe a new air of positivity into Tokyo as we’ve previously seen with areas that have hosted the Games.
The sales British sports firms have been able to achieve over the period leading up to the Tokyo Games has been staggering, hopefully progressing to further positive connections between the two markets in the future. So, while we have been predicted to finish sixth in the medal table, we may just scrape 2nd place just behind Japan in the money making market.
Update: Tokyo Olympics officially moved to 2021
The financial implications of the Olympic Games being moved to a later date because of its forced postponement are astronomical. You may be surprised to learn that the financial hit won’t only target Japan however, though they will be by far the biggest sufferers at the hands of the changing dates. It is expected to cost Japan roughly £5billion according to experts, though it is understood that the IOC is known to insurance cover.
This financial loss is absolutely huge and will make for a majorly testing time for the Japanese economy, as not only have they received this massive loss of funds, but wont be receiving the money they expected to make from tourism and other factors relating to the planned Tokyo Olympic Games.
The change of dates is a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has halted almost everything as we knew it, all around the world. Of course, things have fared no better in countries such as Japan, with Covid-19 majorly impacting life as citizens knew it there, just as it has in many other areas of the world.
The Telegraph looked deeper into the impact the postponed ‘Games would have on British soil. They stated, “From a British perspective, the pandemic and 12-month delay meant two major funding concerns: sports at serious risk of collapse due to total lack of revenue streams, and the continuation of the high-performance system that funds elite Olympic medal contenders.”
“Speaking to the Government in early May, Katherine Grainger, chair of UK Sport – which dishes out funding to Olympic and Paralympic sports – said the organisation needed an extra £53m in a bid to stave off having to make potentially “quite disastrous” decisions ahead of the rearranged Tokyo Games”.
The Tokyo Olympics will now take place in 2021, with the Olympic Games being held between July 23rd and August 8th and the Paralympic Games being held between August 24th and September 5th. This information comes after a plethora of dates were informally suggested for the rearranged ‘Games, before the final dates were confirmed last week.
Has Team GB lost its edge?
A surprisingly affected area of the UKs Olympic performance relates directly to the performance of our athletes themselves. As Team GB is unquestionably one of the best-organised and most looked after, in terms of funding and general financial support, the British Olympic Association had been scrupulous in their analysis of the 2020 event. Now the Olympic Games have been pushed back a whole year, we may well be at risk of losing that advantage over rival countries.
Update: trade deal on the horizon between UK and Japan
Japan and the UK are hopeful of working out the details of a post-Brexit trade deal by the end of this month. The two countries representatives are said to have made great progress during the two days they spent together in London recently. The Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi has said there was substantial agreement in most areas.
The proposed UK and Japan trade deal is said to have one remaining issue to overcome before everything can be completely agreed upon and that is agriculture. After an agreement is reached on the basis of how agriculture will play a part in proceedings, the negotiations should reach their conclusion before the month is over.
Japan is one of the largest foreign direct investors in the UK, so making a trade deal with them makes sense and could be a crucial part to this countries future. The deal will likely mirror the one Japan made with the EU earlier this year, though there will be a few key changes this time around.
It is known that the UK is pushing for far more access in services and eCommerce. This will be one of the main differences to the deal Japan struck with the EU. The relationship between the two countries is a very positive one and as the 2020 was supposed to be the year of the Tokyo Olympics, deals between the UK and Japan have been even more frequent than before.
Trade deals between the two countries totalled more than £31.4 billion last year, with around 9,500 businesses in the UK exporting goods to Japan. Though, if this proposed trade deal comes into effect, that figure could skyrocket in the future.
The UK are also looking to complete a trade deal with the United States, though those negotiations won’t be completed as quickly as the talks with Japan. The BBC has reported on the matter, “But while an agreement with the US is unlikely to be completed this year, talks with Japan – the UK’s fourth largest trading partner outside Europe – are more advanced. A deal could ultimately increase the UK’s trade with Japan by about £15bn a year. Both sides are keen to get a deal in place before the end of the year, when the UK’s post-Brexit transition period expires. If there is no agreement by then, UK-Japanese trade will default to World Trade Organisation rules”.
This sort of deal would likely result in a large number of tariffs on both imports and exports, as well as placing some other trade obstacles in the way of deals. Though, hopefully that can be avoided and the deal between the UK and Japan is figured out quickly and placed into effect before the beginning of next years’ Olympic Games.
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