JAPAN’S RUGBY WORLD Cup organisers have promised to put forward a new list of venues next month after the planned national stadium was scrapped.
The pledge came in response to World Rugby issuing a strongly-worded statement saying it was giving the Japanese hosts until the end of September to come up with a “revised detailed host venue proposal” as organisers scramble to find a replacement.
The national stadium as shown by World Rugby in March.
The governing body has also requested a fresh tournament budget that supplies “appropriate financial security”.
Last month, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shocked World Rugby when he scrapped expensive plans for the national stadium for the 2020 Olympics.
The venue had also been scheduled to host Rugby World Cup matches in 2019, including the showpiece final. But Abe said the $2 billion cost of the stadium was too high and a new design should be found. As a result, any new stadium will not be ready by 2019.
“Following the Japanese government’s disappointing decision to remove the new national stadium from the inventory of Rugby World Cup 2019 host venues, World Rugby has set out a revised roadmap for the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee to deliver key assurances regarding the successful delivery of the tournament,” it said in a statement.
It added that the loss of the venue “has significant impact on the overall ticketing capacity and tournament budget”.
Japan’s World Cup organising committee said it was drafting fresh plans that would satisfy the global body.
“World Rugby and the Rugby World Cup 2019 organising committee have engaged in talks over venue and budget plans in light of the development that the new national stadium won’t be available,” said Akira Shimazu, the committee’s chief executive.
“Both World Rugby and us are taking forward-looking approaches, and we are working hard to reach an agreement by the end of September at the latest,” he added.
The stadium fiasco has been a major embarrassment for Japan and Tokyo’s Olympic organisers have found themselves under heavy pressure to deliver a new venue in time for the 2020 Games. The International Olympic Committee demanded this week that Japan complete the redesigned stadium by January of that year, three months earlier than planned.
World Rugby’s demands come just days after Japan national coach Eddie Jones said he would step down after this year’s World Cup in England.
He is also quitting as a director of Japan’s new Super Rugby side, as fears mount that the franchise could collapse amid reports that just a handful of players have signed contracts with the team, which will join the expanded competition next year.
These are the 12 venues Japan had planned to use for the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Japan does have other stadiums that could host the event — including one in Yokohama just south of Tokyo which staged the 2002 football World Cup final. But there could be repercussions over reduced ticket revenues because any replacement venue would have fewer seats than the originally planned stadium.
Last month, World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset told AFP that there was no immediate question of moving the tournament from Japan.
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