TOKYO: Many past Olympic Games failed to increase citizens’ sports participation in host nations, though such a boost is billed as a benefit of holding the Olympics, an international team has found.
The research team analyzed changes in citizens’ participation in sports and other physical activity before and after eight Olympics Games held in and after 1996, according to the team’s study recently published in the online edition of the British medical journal Lancet.
“The brand value of the Olympics has not been utilized sufficiently” to increase population-based physical activity, said University of Tokyo lecturer Masamitsu Kamada, a member of the team.
Kamada stressed the need for governments, municipalities and sponsor companies to jointly take long-term measures to encourage citizens to play sports and engage in physical activity and make sports opportunities widely available.
The team analyzed five summer Games, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and three winter Games, including the 1998 Nagano Olympics, for which at least three surveys have been conducted on the impact of the sporting event on sports participation.
The study showed that there was no increase in sports participation or physical activity except for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
The team, however, said that data on the impact of the Beijing Olympics may be insufficient and that the increase in participation in Nagano may not be attributable to the Games since there was no change in participation in winter sports such as ski.
The team also studied internet search data in Britain before and after the 2012 London Olympics.
The data showed that searches with the term “Olympic” decreased sharply soon after the London Games while those with the term “exercise” continued to increase for several years.
Meanwhile, there was no increase in sports participation in Britain, indicating that people who became interested in sports did not take actions.
“The importance of physical activity is increasing” with people spending more time at home and working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kamada said.
“It’s important to encourage people to exercise,” Kamada added.