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Companies making good use of platform at Sports Business Expo

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Beginning with last year’s Rugby World Cup, Japan has begun a golden period of hosting some of the world’s biggest sporting events, including, obviously, this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and also the 2021 World Masters Games in Osaka.

Naturally, various businesses in the country are looking to capitalize on the valuable opportunities this presents.

Many began to do that this week, coming together at the third annual Sports Business Expo, which is the country’s leading sports business trade show, at Makuhari Messe. The three-day event kicked off on Wednesday and has attracted a large number of visitors.

According to the organizers, over 550 manufacturers are exhibiting their products and services, which are meant for teams, audiences, athletes and sporting facilities. An estimated 33,000 visitors are expected to come and see these products, some of which employ AI and VR technology.

The event has also drawn companies who aren’t so well known in the sports industry.

Iris Ohyama Inc., is a consumer plastic manufacturer which has built its reputation by producing housewares, garden accessories, office products and pet supplies among other things. The Sendai-based company is now utilizing its expertise to offer plastic and LED products for use in sports facilities.

Yoshinori Yamada, an Iris Ohyama employee who was at its booth on Wednesday, said LED lighting is one of the company’s core products and that it had started to expand that service to sporting facilities.

“And then, we started receiving demands for other things such as artificial turf and stadium seats,” Yamada said. “We launched a sports facility department last year and have tried to predict what would suit respective facilities as best as we can.”

The LED technology that Iris Ohyama offers to sports facilities is not just meant for the lights installed up high at stadiums and arenas. It’s also used for signage that could serve informational purposes or as advertisements.

Iris Ohyama has provided various products for professional sports facilities such as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles’ Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Kawasaki Frontale’s Todoroki Stadium and the Kawasaki Brave Thunders’ Todoroki Arena.

Yamada said while many still don’t associate the company with the sports industry, the opportunity to attend the expo helps raise its profile in that arena.

Elsewhere, Nozomu Omiya was busy talking to whoever stopped by the booth for his company, Cryo Control Japan, Co., Ltd.

One of his company’s core products is an ice bath that doesn’t require ice because it features a system that controls the water temperature.

In addition to helping athletes’ bodies recover after strenuous activity, the ice bath can also be used for the prevention and treatment of heatstroke, one of the major concerns for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Omiya, a former nurse who now serves as a consultant for the company, insisted the awareness of heatstroke in Japan is much lower compared with Europe and North America. He added that he hopes the Asian country will raise its awareness ahead of the Olympics and other big events.

Omiya said his company has drawn “a lot of interest” from teams, athletes and organizations at the expo.

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