No typhoon on the horizon, stadiums filled and an enthusiasm already palpable: Japan is ready for "his" Rugby World Cup, whose kick-off will be given Friday less than a year of the Games Olympic.
"The World Cup will remain etched in the memories of the Japanese people and elsewhere". Japanese Rugby Federation (JRFU) President Shigetaka Mori showed his confidence on Tuesday when he presented the Webb-Ellis Trophy in Tokyo, a few meters from the Olympic Stadium still under construction for the 2020 Olympics, including the Rugby World Cup. serves as a dress rehearsal.
The start of the week has indeed given Japanese leaders very positive signals about the success of a tournament that looks "very different from others," according to World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper. The last doubts are raised, although the popularity will also depend on the course of the "Brave Blossoms", the national team that will beat Russia on Friday opening, then Samoa, Scotland or Ireland to access the quarter final.
- The memory of 2011 -
Almost all tickets (96%) for the 48 matches, played in 12 stadiums, were sold and there remained Tuesday less than 100,000 available out of a total of 1.8 million.
Although the Olympics, which will take place from July 24 to August 9, 2020, are more visible on the streets and subway of Tokyo, the World Rugby is a great enthusiasm. Thus, the Welsh trained in Kitakyushu (south) earlier this week in front of 15,000 people, all dressed in red. "It's telling," said World Rugby President Bill Beaumont. "Japan already proves that it is a magnificent host."
Another symbol, the Argentines have themselves prepared for a week at Village J near Fukushima, which had served as a base camp for staff to decontaminate the area after the major nuclear accident in 2011, caused by a tsunami.
A disaster that left more than 18,000 dead and devastated among others Kamaishi, a stronghold of Japanese rugby that got up with the construction of a new stadium for the competition. The first game to be played, Fiji-Uruguay on September 25, will be a highlight of the six weeks of competition.
For the moment, no meteorological phenomenon (typhoon) threatens an archipelago broken by natural disasters and a tournament that could suffer from the cancellation of stakes matches. "We hope it will not be a problem," said Brett Gosper cautiously.
- Better than England -
Climate threats are on the decline, economic prospects on the rise: with 260 million pounds (293 M EUR) of expected commercial revenues, Japan should finally do better than England in 2015, so far the World's most profitable (245 million pounds), while World Rugby did not expect so much.
"We had forecasts of about 25% less in commercial revenues and in fact, we will exceed the commercial income of England," said Gosper.
Between 400,000 and 500,000 foreign visitors are expected in the country, a little more than in Britain (350,000), for the first World Cup held in Asia and outside the circle of great nations of the sport.
Will they attend a third consecutive triumph of New Zealand? Competition has intensified in recent months between South Africa, England, Ireland and Wales. Even if the Welsh, ephemeral number 1 world during the summer, have to do without their assistant coach Rob Howley, suspected of illegal bets and returned Tuesday in the principality.
In Japan, everyone agrees that betting is more open than ever. "Yes, half a dozen teams believe they can win," says Gosper, who rubs his hands: relatively recent, the sporting uncertainty reinforces the interest of the event.
The result of the clash between All Blacks and Springboks on Saturday in Yokohama will be a first indication. But it will be until November 2, six weeks later in the same stadium, to have the final answer.
© 2019 AFP