Japan opens arms to half a million fans for Rugby World Cup
Nikkei -- Aug 22
With the Rugby World Cup kicking off Sept. 20 in Japan, communities across the country are preparing for the 500,000-plus visitors expected to attend.

Nearly 50 games will be played across 12 Japanese cities through the final Nov. 2. City governments and local businesses hope that the fans will take the opportunity to see more of Japan as they travel to the various venues.

"We already have several group reservations, including a 40-member amateur rugby team from Australia," said Ryusuke Hasegawa, who runs the Irish pub Brian Brew in the city of Sapporo.

Australia will play at the Sapporo Dome on Sept. 21, and England plays there the next day. About 20,000 foreign fans are expected to flock to the city to watch the teams, and Hasegawa plans to stock six to eight times as much beer as for a typical weekend.

Volunteers will distribute maps of local restaurants and bars to foreign visitors around the stadium and in town, according to the Sapporo city government. Suppliers are considering night deliveries to bars to ensure that fans do not run dry.

About 30% of the World Cup audience is expected to consist of foreign visitors primarily from Europe, Australia and the U.S.

"Fans from countries with strong teams, like in Europe, are extremely dedicated," a source involved in the competition said. "They are at their closest pub from the morning, then they return after the games to discuss rugby at length with beer in hand."

Unlike the Olympics, which are hosted by a single city at a time, the Rugby World Cup will be held throughout Japan from the northernmost main island of Hokkaido to the southernmost of Kyushu. The games are also spaced about a week apart, since they can be physically hard on players. Many fans will spend part of that time sightseeing while traveling to the next venue by rental car and train.

News source: Nikkei
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