Chiba Seeking Extreme Comeback After Hosting Japan’s 1st X Games

Chiba is looking to cash in on the extreme sports fever sparked by the Tokyo Olympics last year when it hosts the first-ever X Games in Japan, with sponsors lining up to get in on the action.

X Games Chiba 2022, a three-day multi-sport event to be held from April 22 at Zozo Marine Stadium outside Tokyo, will bring together big stars, including some Olympic athletes, to wow crowds in skateboarding, BMX and competitions Moto X.

Yuto Horigome of Japan competes in the ESPN X-Games Men’s Skateboarding Street Qualifier event at US Bank Stadium on July 20, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty/Kyodo)

The addition of skateboarding and freestyle BMX to the Tokyo Games has breathed some fresh air into the sometimes stuffy Olympics and now the X Games are coming to Japan to ride the wave of interest generated by Japanese medal-winning superstars.

The X Games are over two decades old and were called the Extreme Games earlier in their life. They were launched in 1995 by the American sports channel ESPN and have taken place in North America, Asia and Europe, gathering more than 6 million spectators to date, but never before in Japan.

This is an invitation-only event, which means organizers can choose which athletes will be the most crowd-pleasing. More than 100 skaters and riders from Japan and abroad are expected in Chiba, including gold medalists from the first Olympic skateboarding and BMX Park competitions.

Skateboarders Yuto Horigome and Sakura Yosozumi, respectively Olympic champions in the men’s street and women’s park events, will return to the big stage in their native country for the first time since the Games last summer.

“I dream of competing on this stage. I want to do my best to win the gold medal,” said Yosozumi, whose best X Games result is third place.

Sakura Yosozumi of Japan reacts on the podium after finishing in third place in the women’s skate park final during the ESPN X Games at US Bank Stadium on July 22, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty/Kyodo)

In the Moto X competition, where riders perform big jumps with flips and various other stunts mixed in, there will be a “best whip” event and freestyle demos.

X Games Chiba is expected to have wide international coverage via ESPN, which reaches at least 500 million households in 192 countries and regions. It will also be released to Japanese homes via local broadcaster Nippon TV.

The corporate sponsors of the event see it as an opportunity to increase their visibility with a new demographic group, hoping that this will translate into financial results.

Rim Nakamura speaks during a competitor presentation at X Games Chiba 2022 in February 2022. (Photo courtesy of X Games Japan) (Kyodo)

Chiba promotes regional development through international conferences, sporting and musical events. He expects around 90,000 spectators to attend the X Games, which will have a positive ripple effect on the local economy.

Companies from a wide range of industries are listed as sponsors. Japanese distributor Web-Shark Inc. has become a title partner to expand global recognition for Yogibo, an American bean bag company it acquired in 2021.

It is joined by publishing company Kodansha Ltd., which is looking to expand its overseas book sales, and X-Mobile Co., which is keen to grab a bigger share of the phone services market. low-cost mobile.

“I hope the attention won’t be short-lived,” says Shinji Kawano, executive chairman of the event’s organizing committee.

Event organizers plan to set up an area outside the venue for visitors to sample the sports, with cheap 500 yen ($4.00) tickets to entice elementary and middle school students to get involved.

After the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were largely held without spectators due to the pandemic, the presence of crowds in Chiba for the X Games will add to the atmosphere created by the athletes.

“I want to make an impact by flying higher than anyone else and showing people how much fun it is,” said Rim Nakamura, a BMX freestyle park rider who represented Japan at the Games. Olympics.

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