KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 (Reuters) - World Rugby officials will meet 2019 World Cup organisers on Thursday in the hope of thrashing out a solution after hosts Japan decided to scrap plans for a new stadium that would have hosted the tournament’s feature matches.
Costs for a New National Stadium, set to be the centrepiece of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics as well as the venue for the rugby World Cup opening game and final, soared to $2.1 billion, nearly twice original estimates.
The inflated price tag sparked widespread outrage and prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to abandon the initial design earlier this month, meaning the rugby World Cup will not have a new stadium in the Japanese capital.
“We are meeting with the 2019 team this afternoon to discuss this issue,” World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper told Reuters on Thursday.
Asked whether the 2019 final would now be moved to Yokohama, which was a late addition to the list of stadiums last year, Gosper said it was unclear.
Yokohama’s 72,000-seat stadium was not on the original shortlist of venues bidding to host matches but World Rugby agreed late last year to accept a late application from Yokohama and the Kanagawa Prefecture.
Hong Kong and Singapore both initially asked if they could host matches but their requests were rejected.
“We are obviously very disappointed at the news,” Gosper said. “We would have liked to have shared the stadium with the Olympics (a year later). This decision will change the makeup of our event.”
Japan spent years lobbying to become the first Asian country to be awarded the right to host the World Cup, which started in 1987 and has been played every four years since.
The stadium decision has also affected plans for the 2020 Olympics, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) now wanting to be part of the tender for the new design to monitor progress and ensure it is ready in time for the 2020 Games.
This year’s rugby World Cup will be held in England and Wales. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann)