World Rugby, the international governing body of rugby union, has approved a revised roadmap submitted by Japan for the staging of the 2019 Rugby World Cup which will see Yokohama replace Tokyo as the venue for the tournament’s final.
As part of the new-look plan approved today (Monday), the 72,000-seat Yokohama Stadium, venue for the 2002 Fifa World Cup final, will now host the finale of World Rugby’s showpiece national team tournament. The Tokyo Stadium will act as a replacement for the National Stadium and will now host the World Cup’s opening ceremony, as well as the first game of the tournament.
Japanese organisers last month pledged to meet World Rugby’s demand for a fresh masterplan for the tournament, after the global governing body said it would need a new roadmap for its showpiece event by the end of September.
World Rugby had been forced to reassess plans for the World Cup after the 80,000-seat National Stadium, which was set to be the centrepiece of the tournament ahead of Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games, was removed as a host venue for the rugby union showpiece. The decision came in July following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s move to shelve the original design amid concerns over spiralling costs – a development which will mean a new venue will not be ready in time for the 2019 World Cup.
The National Stadium remains at the heart of the Olympic plans, but the delay left World Rugby without a venue for its World Cup final and a number of matches earlier in the tournament. Speaking today, Bernard Lapasset (pictured), World Rugby chairman, said: “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.”
Akira Shimazu, Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee chief executive, added: “This revised plan is a blueprint for success. We are confident that the selection of the Tokyo Stadium for the opening match and the final in the International Stadium Yokohama will provide a spectacular backdrop for the tournament.”