An international conference on sports, arts and business kicks off in Japan on Wednesday as part of the government’s efforts to create momentum leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and beyond.
The World Forum on Sport and Culture, hosted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, is expected to bring together some 4,000 people in Kyoto and Tokyo, including top athletes, artists and business leaders, as well as sports ministers.
They will be discussing ways to leverage Japan’s cultural and sporting assets to create opportunities for the future.
The four-day conference includes a series of cultural sessions and events in Kyoto on Wednesday and Thursday, and discussions on sports and business in Tokyo from Thursday to Saturday.
Among the highlights will be a keynote address Thursday in Tokyo by leaders of the sports and business communities, including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont and Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Cultural events include a demonstration of kemari, a kind of ancient Japanese football, and a performance of Japanese court music at Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto.
Kihei Maekawa, vice education minister, said a series of upcoming international sports events, including the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will lead Japan toward future prosperity.
“Japan will be drawing attention from the world,” Maekawa told a news conference Monday in Tokyo. “I believe these are great opportunities for us to take advantage of these events, to link them to the growth of not only Japan but the world. These international sports events will have influence not only in the field of sports, but culture, business and society.”
With support from the World Economic Forum, the programs also include 26 public-private workshops to discuss business opportunities in fields such as health, digital technology, tourism and popular culture.
Adrian Monck, managing director of the WEF, said one of the major topics in the discussion will be how Japan and the world can benefit from the cultural and sporting market and how to spread the benefits of growth from those markets as widely as possible.
He said the global sports industry is worth about $700 billion annually and the arts and culture industries are estimated to be worth around $250 billion a year.
“Sports and art and culture are some of the most vital and growing elements of the growing economy,” Monck said.
The Japan Times is a media partner in the conference.
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