Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Faculty of Management, Osaka Seikei University

Isao Okada is professor at Osaka Seikei University (Japan), where he specializes in sport sociology and business of sports. Until March 2018, he worked for the Mainichi Newspapers as a senior staff writer since 1988. In his 30-year career at Mainichi, he served as a member of the editorial committee of the economic division in the Osaka Headquarters, the sports editorial committee, and the deputy director of the arts and cultural division. His education includes a BA in law from Soka University (Japan) and a MA in international economics and finance from Chulalongkorn University (Thailand). He received a Fulbright Journalist fellowship in the academic year of 2007-2008, spending time at Harvard University. As an Abe Fellow, he also became a visiting scholar at both Harvard University and University of Oxford in 2016-2017. He has published, in Japanese, a book, Meja-rigu Naze Moukaru (Why Is the Major League Baseball So Profitable?) in 2010.

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Senior Staff Writer, Economic News, The Mainichi Newspapers
After the Carnival: How to Prevent Olympic Stadiums from Becoming White Elephants - Learning from Experiences in Asia, America, and Europe

Are Olympic stadiums enduring legacies or white elephants? Constructed or renovated with an optimistic prospect and a role as a legacy, the Olympic stadiums, which swallow a large amount of money and whose capacities are normally over 80,000 seats, are troubling aspects for most host cities and countries in terms of their efficient reuse. "Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys" (Olympic Stadium), renovated for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, has been burdened by a huge operating cost since two anchor tenants left before 2010. The Bird's Nest, constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, is also empty after a theme park's plan to build an artificial ski slope met with a setback, even though operating costs are an estimated $11 million annually. The Centennial Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, now Turner Field, modified for use as the ballpark for the Major League Baseball Atlanta Braves after the 1996 Games, is scheduled to be demolished after the 2016 season because the Braves refused to extend the lease contract. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are no exception. This July, the Japanese government announced the scrapping of the costly design of the New National Stadium and a return of the project to the starting blocks because the estimated construction costs would have doubled from the original $1.1 billion plan and because it received harsh criticism from the public. Trying to ease the financial burden, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) unveiled a strategic plan for the future of the Olympic Movement, "Olympic Agenda 2020," last December. Only encouraging the reuse of existing venues, however, Agenda 2020 could not establish an effective road map for the construction, maintenance, and operation of Olympic stadiums. The purpose of this research is to investigate the key factors for the effective reuse of Olympic stadiums and ways of reducing the costs of maintenance and operation in order to avoid their becoming white elephants after the Games. Focusing on the stadiums for eight Summer Olympics in seven countries since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, this research will be conducted using the qualitative research method through fieldwork and semi-structured interviews with the stadiums' owners, operators and anchor tenants. Based on the data comparing the ex ante plan at the bidding and the actual performance, this research will reveal the current situation and issues, then discuss how to retain anchor tenants and how to attract lucrative events to cover the costs of maintenance and operation. Now the Japanese government plans to reuse the New National Stadium not only as an athletic stadium but also as a football ground and a rugby field after the Games, and estimates its maintenance and operating costs at $33 million annually; however, there are no clear signs that the government has carefully considered future utilization. This will again surely cause a financial argument later. This research will show a road map to reducing the maintenance and operating costs of stadiums in the future, for not only the Japanese government but also the IOC, host cities and host countries.