Proposed Osaka stadium at the heart of Japan's World Cup bid

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The Independent Online

No sooner has the excitement from the last soccer World Cup died down - along with the racket from the South African fans' vuvuzela horns - than campaigning for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments has begun.

Whoever wins the right to stage these two showcases of "the beautiful game" will have a lot to live up to as this summer's tournament has been hailed as one of the best in the history of the World Cup.

But Japan, where the FIFA inspection team on Tuesday began its first examination of a bidding country, believes it is able to put on a comparable show for 2022.

"We believe that our vision for the 2022 World Cup is very important and we have the impression that the delegates here have very carefully examined our bid book and like our plans," Satomi Tanekura, a spokeswoman for the Japanese bid, told Relaxnews.

The six-strong FIFA delegation is headed by Harold Mayne-Nicholls and arrived in Osaka on Monday afternoon, for a three-day visit. No sooner had the delegates touched down at Kansai International Airport then they were taken aboard a helicopter that flew them over the center of Japan's second biggest city and offered them a bird's eye view of the site of the proposed Osaka Ecology Stadium, where the final of the 2022 tournament will be held - if Japan wins the bid.

The new stadium is the centerpiece of the Japanese bid - a massive 83,000-seat arena rising on the site of the defunct railway yards in the Umeda district on the heart of the city - and would also host the opening game.

Japan's campaign is titled "FIFA World Cup: The Next Generation" and relies heavily on technology.

As part of its $6 billion "Universal Fan Fest," Japan is proposing to provide three-dimensional images of all the games to 360 million people at around 400 stadiums around the world, giving anyone not able to make it all the way to Japan the chance to enjoy the game before their very eyes.

Another innovation that is being proposed is the Real Time Automatic Translation System, which will enable fans from different countries to "talk" with each other in their own languages, while the bid also includes inviting 6,000 children from the 208 member countries of FIFA to Japan to watch the matches live.

"We are explaining to the FIFA members that Japan has the ability to put together a well-organized World Cup," Tanekura said. "We have the experience of organizing major sporting events, we have the infrastructure in place, and accommodation and transportation are ready."

The delegation was briefed on the Japanese proposals on Tuesday and traveled to Tokyo on Wednesday to visit the Saitama Stadium, one of the proposed venues, team hotels and other facilities.

On Thursday, the delegation will travel to South Korea, which is also bidding for the tournament and jointly hosted the 2002 tournament.

As well as Japan and South Korea, Australia, Qatar and the United States are are hoping to host the 2022 games, while Britain, the USA, Russia, Australia and joint bids between Belgium and Holland and Spain and Portugal are trying to land the 2018 tournament.

The final decision for both tournaments will be announce in the Swiss city of Zurich on December 2.

http://www.dream-2022.jp/

JR

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