Football

Japan pulls out of hosting Fifa's Club World Cup

Chelsea are scheduled to play at Fifa's Club World Cup as a result of winning the Uefa Champions League last May following a 1-0 victory over Manchester City.
Chelsea are scheduled to play at Fifa's Club World Cup as a result of winning the Uefa Champions League last May following a 1-0 victory over Manchester City. David Ramos POOL/AFP

Bosses at world football's governing body Fifa were on Thursday seeking a new venue for the 2021 Club World Cup after Japan said it could not host the tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Japanese Football Association (JFA) told Fifa that it was not in a position to stage the event, which is scheduled to run from 9 to 19 December.

"We had to make a decision at this time," said JFA secretary general Kiyotaka Suhara.

The Japanese news agency, Kyodo News, had reported week that the JFA was concerned over the rising number of coronavirus infections and the potential lack of fans, which would have restricted the organisation's chances of making a profit from holding the competition.

Gratitude

"Fifa would like to thank the JFA for their work and commitment and looks forward to going back to Japan in the future," said a Fifa statement.. 

"Further details about an alternative host for the Club World Cup 2021 will be announced by Fifa in due course."

Seven teams, including the European champions Chelsea, were due to take part in the tournament in Japan, which recently staged the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Those events took place during the summer under strict conditions for athletes and officials.

Japan has recorded more than 1.5 million coronavirus infections since the pandemic hit last resulting in the deaths of at least 16,000 people.

Nineteen of the country's 47 prefectures - including Tokyo's neighbours Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama - have been placed under a state of emergency in which people are urged to avoid crowded areas. 

Restaurants are unable to serve alcohol and must close by 8pm.

Yoshihde Suga, the Japanese prime minister, announced last week that he will step down after just a year in office.

The 72-year-old has faced a barrage of criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic as well as for pushing ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games despite widespread public doubts about staging the events during a health crisis.

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