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Large number of overseas fans expected at Rugby World Cup

TOKYO (AP) Organizers of the Rugby World Cup in Japan say the number of foreign visitors expected at this year's tournament has far exceeded expectations.

Speaking at the Foreign Press Center Japan in Tokyo, organizing committee chief executive Akira Shimazu said the tournament will see about 500,000 tickets sold to foreign fans who will travel throughout Japan.

The Sept. 20 to Nov. 2 Rugby World Cup will include 48 matches played by 20 participating teams across 12 cities stretching from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the southwest.

It's the first time the event will be held outside of the traditional rugby strongholds, having started in 1987 with a Rugby World Cup held jointly by Australia and New Zealand. The tournament has also been hosted across Britain and Ireland, France and South Africa.

Organizers see the tournament as a chance to tap into the vast potential of the Asian market.

Shimazu said he hopes the tournament will contribute to stimulating local economies, particularly in the 12 cities in which matches will be played.

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Updated February 21, 2019