Former Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O’Neill wants Australia to help ensure that Japan hosts the 2019 Rugby World Cup amid fears the Asian country will be stripped of the right to host the tournament.
Japan’s status as host nation suffered a huge setback after the loss the new National Stadium as a venue. The new National Stadium was to be built in Tokyo and set to host the opening match, the final and other matches at the global showpiece in 2019 but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scrapped the project due to escalating costs.
World Rugby then sought formal reassurances from Japan about the successful delivery of the tournament.
But O’Neill is worried that World Rugby’s “ultimatum” to Japan could result in the game’s governing body taking the World Cup away from the Japanese.
“I’ve read the World Rugby press release regarding the assurances they are seeking from Japan and it concerns me that this ultimatum may well be a precursor to World Rugby stripping Japan of the hosting rights,” O’Neill told The Australian.
“And indeed there has been some sentiment out of the UK in particular that the decision to award Japan the hosting rights in the first place was one that some would like to reverse.
“The fact is the ARU, New Zealand and other forward-thinking nations worked very hard to ensure Japan was awarded the rights to host 2019, being the first non-traditional territory to do so and being the first Asian country to do so and the strategic imperative is blindingly obvious that if World Rugby wants to live up to its objective of being a truly world game then every effort and every ounce of energy must be directed into ensuring Japan does host 2019.
“If you look at the composition of the organising committee that has been assembled, it is a very large collection of captains of industry in Japan, chairmen and CEOs of incredibly large and important companies across a range of industries.
“I have no doubt that these gentlemen will rise to the challenge as will the Japanese Government.”