By Mark Piekarz, Coventry University
The visit to Japan involved visiting 6 of the 12 stadiums and towns which held rugby games, which gave more micro, operations insights into the impact of the event. A mix of data collection methods were used, ranging from observation studies, interviews and walking photography tours, geo-tagging key locations in relation to how the event was leveraged by different organisations. From this visit, I saw many positive features to the event, but also some issues, particularly whether some of the community groups got as much enhancement as they may have been promised, or may have hoped. One of the theoretical concepts being thought about is how important it is to ‘micro’ leverage events, as macro leveraging was definitely taking place, but it can still result in failed positive impacts occurring.
The people/groups interviewed included an eclectic range of people, including Pride House (a safe house, focusing on LGBT rights, set up just for the World Cup, but was using it for a trial run for the Olympics), Kamaishi volunteers, charity organisations, coaches and players, to name but some.
As always with research projects, once in the field there had to be a certain amount of adaption, but nothing that compromised the ethical guidelines approved. In particular, it proved more challenging to talk in any depth with some of the volunteers, as their English was not strong enough. Also external factors, such as the typhoon Hagibis, disrupted games and travel patterns (e.g. being stuck in Kamaishi, with the game cancelled as road and rail networks were closed).
The opportunity was also afforded to examine how towns have dealt with the 2011 triple disaster (earthquake, Tsunamis and nuclear disaster), with an opportunity to visit the exclusion zone, as they were preparing to re-open the rail links, ready for the Olympics. In terms of outputs, so far it has meant following up leads and contacting people for more data, as some worked in Government and could provide more tangible data. Also in the process of writing up field notes, etc.
Takao Arahata an 86 year old volunteer, who spoke of going to the 1964 Olympics as part of his honeymoon. One of the striking features about the 13,000 volunteers were how many of them were retired, which reflected in many ways the trends in Japanese society (observational data was nearly 50%). Note the interesting correlation in relation to a journal paper which looked at the impact of the 1964 Olympics on sport participation.