Olympics: Tokyo 2020 'tix' boxes for Singapore spectators

A general view of the construction site of the Olympic Aquatics Centre, venue for the swimming competition in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. PHOTO: AFP

The Tokyo Olympics may be 574 days away and no athlete from the Republic has qualified yet, but that has not deterred Singaporeans from marking their calendars to make the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun to watch sport's biggest showpiece.

Daniel Beniston, managing director of ticketing agency Kingdom Sports Group, which holds exclusive rights to Olympic tickets for Singapore, said that pre-registration has begun and there is already "extraordinary interest" compared to previous Games.

He cited the proximity to Japan as a key reason, adding: "This is a great opportunity for people who may have always wanted to go to the Olympic Games but it was either too far or too out of reach."

Watching swimmer Joseph Schooling attempt to defend the 100m butterfly title he won in Rio de Janeiro 2016, Singapore's first Olympic gold, is also expected to generate substantial interest.

The 2020 edition will be only the fourth time that the Summer Games will be held in Asia. Tokyo, which also hosted the quadrennial event in 1964, will be the first Asian city to stage it twice. Seoul was the host in 1988 and Beijing in 2008.

An increasing number of travellers are those seeking to do business on the sidelines of major Games, according to Beniston.

"We are seeing an increase in the business of sport, particularly in terms of Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions)," the Australian said.

"Organisations that sponsor national Olympic councils are also allowed to look at ways to engage the public and enhance their brand (through offering trips to the Games)."

James Walton, sports business leader for Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia, said that leveraging a major sporting event to do business is becoming increasingly popular.

"The added incentive convinces business leaders to attend and stay longer, and to engage in networking at the hospitality area," he explained. "The trip will also then linger in the mind as an experience rather than a regular business trip.

"We have seen many events smartly embracing this approach to market Singapore events around the timing of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, World Rugby Sevens and WTA tennis.

"It is often believed that millions of dollars of deals are done on the side of the GP in the business suites and the World Cup and Olympics are no different."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2018, with the headline Olympics: Tokyo 2020 'tix' boxes for Singapore spectators. Subscribe