Asia News: Beyond Live, National Stadium, Wynn & More

– Beyond Live

SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment Found Beyond Live With Naver
Last April, the South Korean entertainment company SM Entertainment launched a live streaming service called Beyond Live in collaboration with the internet platform Naver. On Aug. 4 SM Entertainment and another major Korean entertainment company JYP Entertainment formed a company called Beyond Live Corporation (BLC), which, according to local news services, is the first business to specialize in online concerts. 
BLC combines SM Entertainment’s content production know-how with Naver’s technology and JYP’s global network and creative input. Several SM artists have already presented live concerts since April with the help of Naver and the service had attracted a great deal of attention for its use of advanced online technology, including augmented reality and interactive response. The next Beyond Live concert will take place on Aug. 9 at 3 p.m. Korean time and will feature the girl group Twice. 
In related news, Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival, which was supposed to take place Aug. 21-23 in the mountains of Niigata Prefecture but was postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will present during the same weekend highlights from past festivals on a continual basis via the Fuji Rock YouTube channel. 
Viewers will be able to make donations through the YouTube chat feature, with all proceeds going to Music Cross Aid, an organization raising funds to support the Japanese entertainment industry, as well as to Doctors Without Borders, the global non-profit organization that provides medical services in places where medical services are in short supply. As of the first week of August, the artists to be featured had not been announced.
Tokyo Postpones Concession Bids For National Stadium
The Japanese government has decided to postpone bidding for the concession to manage the new National Stadium that was built as the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which has been postponed until the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis, according to the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper.
The original plan to privatize operations of the stadium was supposed to be finalized in the fall of 2019. However, the various companies that wanted to bid for the concession contract asked the government to disclose detailed information about the venue’s floor plan and logistics so that they could devise feasibility plans. 
Under those circumstances the Japanese governments felt, for security reasons, it would be best to not disclose such information until after the Olympics and Paralympics had taken place, and following a discussion between the cabinet office and the Japan Sports Center (JSC), which currently manages the stadium, it was decided to postpone the disclosure of detailed information until the fall of 2020 at the earliest.
However, with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Games until the summer of 2021, that plan has been revised, and Tokyo Shimbun reports that the bidding for the concession will probably not take place until the latter half of 2022. At the same time, the government will discuss selling naming rights to the stadium.
The main concern of the companies interested in managing the stadium is the venue’s maintenance costs following the Olympics. JSC has calculated that the average cost for maintaining the stadium over the next 50 years, including repairs, will be about 2.4 billion yen ($22.6 million) a year. 
The annual cost of maintaining the old national stadium, which was built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, was about 1.1 billion yen. In order to cut down on costs the number of seats in the stadium will be reduced from 80,000, which will be available for the Games, to 60,000. And in order to increase profitability, the stadium itself will be renovated to accommodate team sports like soccer and rugby, as well as entertainment events like large-scale concerts. 
The problem, according to experts who talked to Tokyo Shimbun, is that there may be few sporting or concert events big enough to justify the use of such a massive venue. It will be difficult to draw the number of people necessary to pay off the enormous maintenance costs of the place. Some are even saying that after the details of the stadium layout and other particulars are disclosed, there may be no private operators willing to take on the job of managing it. The government may have to completely rethink its plans for the stadium after the crisis is over.
The final price tag for building the National Stadium was 156.9 billion yen.
In related news, Tokyo’s famed Nippon Budokan arena has been refurbished for the postponed Tokyo Olympics, according to another local newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun. Budokan is slated to host various martial arts events, including judo and karate. Among the changes made to the 1,100-capacity venue are a newly reinforced roof to withstand earthquakes, greater accessibility for wheelchairs, new LED lighting, and a new training hall. A socially distanced ceremony took place at the arena on July 29 to celebrate the improvements. Budokan itself was built expressly for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. 
Wynn Closes Yokohama Office
In what some see as a further blow to Japan’s plans to bring casino gambling to the archipelago, Wynn Resorts Ltd. recently announced that is it closing its office in Yokohama after plans by the government to award casino licenses were delayed indefinitely. According to Bloomberg, however, the company says it is still interested.
In a statement released to the press, Wynn said, “The pandemic is having an unprecedented negative impact on integrated resort development, and resort companies usch as Wynn are considering how we evolve our operations to align with a post-pandemic market. Long term, we remain interested in the Japan integrated resort market and will monitor the situation closely.”
At one point, Japan was considered one of the biggest potential gambling markets in the world, and Wynn was one of the first companies to throw its hat into the ring when the Japanese government discussed legalizing casino gambling, which it carried out several years ago. However, the details of how integrated resorts will be able to incorporate gambling into their operations have been slow in coming, and with the pandemic, those plans have essentially come to a standstill. No construction of IRs has even started yet. 
Caesars Entertainment Corporation has already pulled out of the race in order to focus fully on the U.S. market. Las Vegas Sands said it is no longer interested due to the high tax rates, unfavorable terms, and the expense of building in Japan, which, before the pandemic, was suffering from a shortage of building materials and construction labor. MGM Resorts International, however, has said it is still interested in bidding for a casino in the western city of Osaka. 
Kabuki Returns To Tokyo
The Kabuki-za Theater in central Tokyo, Japan’s premier venue for performances of kabuki, a traditional form of theatrical entertainment, held its first show in five months on Aug. 1. 
However, the audience size was limited to half what the theater normally holds due to social distancing requirements.
The current program, which is presented twice daily until Aug. 26, features four separate theatrical works and several dozen of the country’s most illustrious kabuki performers, all male per the tradition. 
While the actors were not outfitted with any extra accoutrements, the singers and musicians, who are a vital part of any kabuki performance, wore masks and face shields.