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Japan 2019 to smash Rugby World Cup fanzone record

Rugby supporters watch the Japan versus South Africa RWC 2019 quarter-final in Oita. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan had 1,024,000 visitors to its 16 fanzones up to and including Saturday’s semi-final between New Zealand and England, beating the 1 million record set at the 2015 tournament.

With three games to be counted – Sunday’s semi-final between Wales and South Africa, the final and the third-place playoff – the tournament will far surpass the previous record. Organisers said the record would have been achieved at the quarter-final stage had it not been for Typhoon Hagibis and its impact on the last weekend of group-stage matches.

The fanzones were in Sapporo (2), Kamaishi, Kumagaya, Tokyo (2), Yokohama, Shizuoka Prefecture (2), Toyota, Osaka Prefecture (2), Kobe, Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Oita. They featured live screenings of matches on big screens, rugby-themed games and promotional activities, food and drinks, entertainment, and unique regional content linked to the host cities.

Tournament organising committee chief executive Akira Shimazu said: “Our Rugby World Cup 2019 Fanzones have introduced to Japan a whole new culture of coming together to watch and enjoy sport in an exciting, festival-like atmosphere. For many Japanese, visiting fanzones gave them their first experience of rugby and a taste of the unique and special atmosphere of a Rugby World Cup. I would like to thank the Host Cities for all their efforts and thank all the visitors to our Fanzones who helped make them such a resounding success.”