Between September 20, 2019 and August 9, 2020, a mere ten months and nineteen days, Japan will host two of the greatest sporting events there are to be held upon this small blue planet. The Rugby World Cup will initiate celebrations inside The Ajinomoto Stadium in western (far western) Tokyo, though for the tour of the tournament it will be labeled, somewhat confusingly, The Tokyo Stadium. The opening match between Japan and Russia is being held here as the new National Stadium, under construction for an eternity, will not be complete. By a matter of a few weeks. Go figure...
Japan is slowly becoming conscious of the events to come. However the excitement is unlikely to build until a few weeks prior to the starting whistle though this fall we can look forward to moments of glory the likes of which are rarely seen. Snap shots in time such as Jonah Lomu inventing the Maori Side Step through, and over, a hapless Mike Catt in 1995, or Jonny Wilkinson snatching victory in the final seconds of 2003. Off the wrong foot!. (Spoiler alert, I was in stadium for that one). But the greatest for this host country would be Japan risking all and going for victory as they did so incredibly in 2015 (the South African fans subsequently gave up their seats on the train back to London for the Japanese fans; respect is all in rugby).
It's been a while since we've enjoyed a major, global event in Japan. FIFA World Cup in 2002 was really the last one, some seventeen years ago. Awesome in its own right, we saw a media panic in advance of the invasion of the Mongol Hordes (metaphorically speaking and my apologies to my Mongol readers!) and the British Hooligans (for who, the local police kindly developed extra large handcuffs). The invasion though was called off due to high ticket prices and the cost of air transport in those days, somewhat out of the pocket range of your average hooligan. But in closing days of September 2019, Let the Games Begin!
PS: Invictus. I once asked Jonah (whom I had the privilege to get to know) if Nelson Mandela did actually say "you frighten me a little bit" as in the movie. He smiled but didn't answer.
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