2019 Cup will help expand sport beyond traditional base: Beaumont
Oct 20 (Reuters) – The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the first in Asia, is an opportunity for the sport to expand beyond its traditional communities, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said on Thursday.
"With over 75 percent of the population an hour’s travel time from a Rugby World Cup venue, it will be accessible to all and will ensure the tournament is for all of Japan," Beaumont said at the World Forum on Sports and Culture in Japan.
With 406,000 international visitors, the 2015 World Cup in England generated 2.3 billion pounds ($2.82 billion) in economic output, making it the most successful event in the sport’s history.
Former England captain Beaumont expected Japan to experience a similar range of economic benefits for staging the tournament.
"As a low-investment, high-return event, Japan 2019 will deliver multiple sporting, economic and social benefits on a national and regional basis over the six weeks of competition," he was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency.
"Up to 400,000 international visitors and 40,000 new jobs have been forecast to contribute to an expected economic output of up to 2.3 billion pounds."
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has previously expressed concerns that Japan may be under-estimating the potential economic impact of the event and Beaumont stressed that the tournament’s benefits is comparable to that of other major sporting events.
"It (England 2015) was the global sporting event of the year and in some aspects, bigger than the London 2012 Olympic Games," the 64-year-old said.
"Over 2.47 million tickets were sold across 48 matches with an average of 98 percent of tickets sold across all venues — the most of any rugby tournament and a higher average than the last Olympic Games or FIFA World Cup."
Japan’s spirited 2015 World Cup run when they became the first side to win three pool games but failed to make the last eight has been key to the growing interest for the sport in the country, according to Beaumont.
"Visiting the ‘Land of the Rising Scrum’ I am already seeing the knock-on effect of Japan’s Rugby World Cup 2015 success," he added. "From ‘Goromania’ amongst excited children to the heightened interest from corporates in Japan."