Ja­pan’s Rugby World Cup pre­pares for ty­phoons, earth­quakes

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Sport -

OR­GA­NIZ­ERS of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are con­cerned about it. So are those run­ning the Rugby World Cup in Ja­pan, which opens with Ja­pan fac­ing Rus­sia on Septem­ber 20, 2019, in Tokyo.

The con­cern? Nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, like earth­quakes and ty­phoons.

This month, the strong­est ty­phoon in 25 years hit the western part of the coun­try, killing 11. A few days later, 41 peo­ple were killed by a pow­er­ful earth­quake on the north­ern is­land of Hokkaido.

“It’s a real hot topic for us right now,” tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Alan Gilpin said.

The Rugby World Cup, held ev­ery four years, is big. It lasts more than six weeks with 20 teams en­tered in four pools headed by New Zealand, Ire­land, Aus­tralia, and Eng­land. Some of the sport’s lesser pow­ers are also in­volved like Uruguay, Namibia, and Rus­sia.

Of the con­tin­gency plan­ning for ex­treme weather, Gilpin said: “It’s a com­plex piece and some­thing we would do for ev­ery tour­na­ment. But this one has a height­ened sense of real­ism to it. We have to take it se­ri­ously.”

Gilpin pointed out that although Ja­pan is sub­ject to earth­quakes in par­tic­u­lar, no coun­try is bet­ter equipped to han­dle them.

“There’s also a height­ened sense of com­fort that Ja­pan deals with these is­sues all the time. It’s not as though we’re deal­ing with a one-off here.”

It’s the first time rugby’s show­case event will be staged in Asia, hav­ing started in 1987 with a Rugby World Cup held jointly by Aus­tralia and New Zealand. The tour­na­ment has also been hosted across Bri­tain and Ire­land, France and South Africa.

Ja­pan caused the big­gest up­set in Rugby World Cup his­tory with a win over South Africa in Eng­land four years ago and has a grow­ing fol­low­ing of fans, adding ex­tra in­ten­sity to the open­ing match.

The re­main­der of the open­ing week­end is set to fea­ture some heavy­weight matches, with three­time and de­fend­ing cham­pion New Zealand meet­ing South Africa in Yoko­hama, France play­ing Ar­gentina in Tokyo, two-time World Cup cham­pion Aus­tralia fac­ing Olympic sev­ens gold medal­ist Fiji in Sap­poro, and Ire­land and Scot­land go­ing head-to­head, and Eng­land tak­ing on Tonga.

There’s al­ready ten­sion ris­ing among some of the lead­ing con­tenders af­ter last week­end when South Africa beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in nine years, and Ar­gentina edged the Wal­la­bies in Aus­tralia for the first time since 1983.

About 1.8 mil­lion spec­ta­tors are ex­pected in 2019 to fill sta­di­ums in 12 cities around Ja­pan, and the TV broad­cast will go to a record global au­di­ence. – AP

Photo: AP

Of­fi­cials and guests pose for pho­tog­ra­phers dur­ing one year to go kick-off event of Rugby World Cup 2019 Thurs­day, Sept. 20, 2018, in Tokyo. Rugby World Cup 2019 will take place in twelve venues in Ja­pan from Septem­ber 20 un­til Nov. 2, 2019.

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