It has been confirmed that the 72,000-capacity Yokohama Stadium, which hosted the final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, will now stage the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
World Rugby had been forced to revise its plans for the first Rugby World Cup in Asia after the design of the new Japan National Stadium, which was to be the showpiece of the 2019 tournament as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was scrapped in July.
The Japanese Government has subsequently advised that the new redesigned stadium will be built in time for the Olympics, but not for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
A statement from World Rugby advised:
World Rugby’s executive committee is satisfied that the revised vision proposed by the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee, with the full support of the Japan Government, meets the required criteria.
Japan caught World Rugby off guard in July when they announced that the proposed new 80,000-seat National Stadium – the centrepiece of the 2020 Olympic Games – wouldn’t be completed in time to host matches during the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.
The venue, whose original design was scrapped by the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, because of escalating costs, was also due to host the tournament’s opening ceremony and match.
World Rugby said that the 50,000-seat Tokyo Stadium, home to the local football club FC Tokyo, would now take the opening honour, while announcing a new roadmap with local organisers after a complete review of the plan.
Introducing the new venues, World Rugby Chairman, Bernard Lapasset stated:
These are exciting, unprecedented times for Japan Rugby and this revised roadmap reinforces and reflects the shared vision and mission to deliver a Rugby World Cup that will be great for Japan, great for Asia and great for Rugby.
We would like to thank our partners in Japan for their committed response to the stadium issue and all of the work they have undertaken, and in particular the Prime Minister of Japan and his government, Japan Sports Council and the Governor of Tokyo and Mayor of Yokohama for their full support.
The tone of satisfaction was in stark contrast to the body’s feelings in July, when it requested urgent talks after Prime Minister Abe, tired of the rising costs and public outcry against the National Stadium plans, ordered a scaled back version.
Image: Yokohama Stadium was the host of the 2002 Football World Cup final.
Source: Australian Leisure Management magazine; an official media partner to Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2015.