Despite COVID uncertainty, Japanese public regard the Olympics as prestigious event

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
December 18, 2020, 4:39 PM UTC

While uncertainty surrounds the scale of the Olympic Games which Tokyo will host in 2021, YouGov SportsIndex data shows that Japanese people continue to consider the event the world’s most prestigious sports property. 

In fact, the Olympics Reputation score has grown stronger in the country in the last 12 months, ahead of the 2020 games (which are scheduled for summer 2021). 

These numbers offer crucial insight into how Japan feels about the games as the country is set to host its fourth Olympic games, this year under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has proven to be a challenge for organizers, but the International Olympic Committee is confident the games will be held with spectators. 

"Having seen now the different tests in Japan, I think we can become more and more confident that we will have a reasonable number of spectators then also in the Olympic venues," IOC president Thomas Bach said at a press conference in November. 

The Winter Games also score highly among Japanese adults in our ranking of the top ten international events and, like the summer counterpart, have seen a rising Reputation score over the last 12 months. 

The net Reputation score is based on the questions: "Which of the following sporting events/leagues do you regard as prestigious (i.e. having a good reputation)?" and "Which of the following sporting events/leagues do you regard as non-prestigious?” 

Meanwhile, Japan looks beyond its borders for what it considers to be the most prestigious events, with the FIFA World Cup (with a 12-month average Reputation score of 36) ranking high on our list. As of November 2020, Japan ranked 27th on the FIFA World Rankings. 

Japan also has high regard for the highest levels of tennis, YouGov data shows, including the Wimbledon Championships (12-month average reputation score of 33), the US Open (28), the French Open (25), and the Australian Open (25). 

The reverence for these tennis events reflects the sport’s resurgence in Japan ushered in by 23-year-old phenom Naomi Osaka, the first Asian player (male or female) to ever win a grand slam tournament. Credit for the rise of tennis in Japan can also be given to 30-year-old Kei Nishikori, who, in 2014, was the first male player representing an Asian country to reach a Grand Slam singles final. 

Beyond tennis, Japan loves its baseball and reveres Major League Baseball, which has a Reputation score of 24 among Japanese adults. 

Also included in our top-10 list is the World Athletics Championships (26) and the Rugby World Cup (23). 

Methodology: YouGov tracks thousands of brands every day. Reputation score is based on responses to the question; "Which of the following sporting events/leagues do you regard as prestigious (i.e. having a good reputation)?" and "Which of the following sporting events/leagues do you regard as non-prestigious?” Scores are the average of daily scores between December 4, 2019 and December 4, 2020 and sample size was an average of 5,684 Japanese adults depending on league or event.