By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO (Reuters) - As Tokyo's chances of hosting the 2020 Olympic Games increase, investors are looking beyond the more obvious infrastructure bets to tourism-related companies and sportswear makers like Mizuno Corp <8022.T>.
Tokyo is leading Istanbul and Madrid in the race to host the Games, according to betting website GamesBids.com which follows the Olympics bids. A decision is expected to be made on September7.
An index created by Bank of America Merrill Lynch to track the movements of 20 Olympics-related, Tokyo-listed shares has risen 17 percent since it began on June 13, compared with a gain of 8 percent on the benchmark Nikkei (.N225).
Two of the standouts on the list are Tokyo Disney Resort operator Oriental Land Co Ltd <4661.T>, which has jumped 18 percent over the period, and sportswear maker Mizuno which is up 29 percent.
"Short-term dealers including myself bought these stocks in advance, but we are always looking for the right time to take profits," said a dealer at a Japanese securities firm's proprietary trading desk. "I will probably sell them as soon as the news is out."
Sports goods maker Asics Corp <7936.T>, advertiser Dentsu Inc (TYO:4324) and security firm Secom Co Ltd (TYO:9735) also have attracted short-term investors.
Games' windfall hunters have also bet on real estate companies Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd <8801.T> and Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd <8802.T>, construction firms Kajima Corp (TYO:1812) and Taisei Corp <1801.T>, and cement maker Taiheiyo Cement Corp (TYO:5233).
Land prices in Nagano rose when Japan hosted the Winter Olympics there in 1998, and investors are gambling on history repeating itself in Tokyo, Daiwa Securities senior strategist Eiji Kinouchi said.
"It is possible that land prices in Tokyo will rise by 50 percent," he said.
Kunihiko Sugio, chief investment officer at Invesco Asset Management, said a winning bid should help drive long-term growth in Japan as companies would be more likely to increase their capital expenditure.
"If Tokyo wins, corporate investment should be boosted, so it will be a big domestic driving factor which will benefit the Japanese market as a whole," Sugio said.
Japan's bid has been boosted by strong public backing and enthusiasm for staging the event.
Istanbul's bid was hurt by violent confrontations between security forces and anti-government protesters earlier this year, and the imposition of doping bans on dozens of its athletes. Madrid's efforts are affected by government austerity programmes amid a punishing recession.
(Editing by Stephen Coates)