World Rugby demands new Japan venue

Rugby’s world body has called on Japan to supply a list of confirmed venues for the 2019 World Cup after Tokyo’s “disappointing” decision to remove a new national stadium from the line-up amid huge cost overruns.

World Rugby said it was giving the tournament’s Japanese hosts until the end of September to come up with a “revised detailed host venue proposal that delivers exceptional team and fan experience, maximising opportunities for fans to be a part of rugby’s showcase event”.

The governing body has also requested a fresh tournament budget that supplies “appropriate financial security”.

The demands come after Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shocked World Rugby last month when he scrapped plans for the national stadium for the 2020 Olympics. The stadium had been scheduled to host Rugby World Cup matches in 2019, including the showpiece final.

Abe said the $US2 billion cost of the stadium was too high and a new design should be found. But any new stadium will not now be ready for 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.

“The new national stadium was due to be the centrepiece of an exciting programme of 12 host venues, staging the opening match, the final and other key clashes and its loss has significant impact on the overall ticketing capacity and tournament budget.”

The association added that it wanted “formal reassurance” on venues and budgets for the event.

“World Rugby remains confident that the criteria can be met by the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee and that the first Rugby World Cup in Asia will be a resounding success,” it said.

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 a 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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