Friendly remarks at Global Asia Matters Business Summit Networking Reception (21 November 2019)

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today at the Global Asia Matters Business Summit.  I would like to start by congratulating Asia Matters for organising such a wonderful event covering a diverse range of topics and stimulating discussions.

Since we are here at the Aviva Stadium, the home of Irish rugby, I hope you will not find it inappropriate of me to talk a little bit about the recent Rugby World Cup which concluded earlier this month in Japan. The tournament was, by all accounts, a great success with over 1.7 million spectators attending the live matches from all over the world. From Ireland, over 20,000 supporters travelled, including perhaps some of you who are here today attending this summit.

The competition was a perfect illustration of why sport matters and its significance goes beyond figures. Even though during a match both teams fight their hardest to win and supporters cheer enthusiastically for their own side, the good thing we witnessed at the Rugby World Cup is at the end there was always respect for each other. Through the matches, we came to understand the other side and the other country better. For example, thanks to the Rugby World Cup many Japanese people came to know about “Ireland’s Call”, anthem of Irish Rugby team.

People are also moved by the human drama in sport. The speech by Siya Kolisi, captain of the South African rugby team, after South Africa’s victory in the Rugby World Cup final was a good example of the power of sport to unite people and inspire us all. In a nutshell, sports matters, because through sports we get closer.

I am proud that Japan hosted successfully the Rugby World Cup for the first time in Asia which contributed to connect the world. At the same time, this was not the first nor the last major global sporting event in Asia in recent times and beyond. You may recall that the Republic of Korea hosted the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Next summer, Japan will play host to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. In 2022, China will organise the Beijing Winter and Paralympic Games. It is wonderful that Olympic and Paralympic
Games are organized in Asian cities three times in a row.  So, it is fair to say that in sports also Asia matters.

I also would like to add that these events have positive ramifications beyond sport. I know that among those who went to Japan for the Rugby World Cup many were businesspersons. During their stay, they travelled to different parts of Japan and interacted with Japanese people. I would not be surprised if this gave them new ideas or connections to apply to their business. This is just one way in which I hope “sport matters” will lead to “business matters.”

In concluding, I would like to say the following: Asia matters, sport matters, and business matters. And they are connected with each other.
Thank you very much for giving me your attention.