Japan shifts stance on World Cup bid

TOKYO - Japan may still bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups even if Tokyo fails to win the race for the 2016 Olympics -- an abrupt change from its previous stance.

Japan Football Association (JFA) vice president Junji Ogura said last month any bid would depend on Tokyo winning the vote for the 2016 Olympic Games.

The country does not currently have an 80,000-capacity stadium required by FIFA and organisers had planned to use Tokyo's proposed 100,000-capacity Olympic stadium plus venues from the 2002 World Cup, which the country co-hosted with South Korea, for the 2018 or 2022 tournaments.

Japanese soccer chief Motoaki Inukai, however, insisted this week they could stage the tournament despite the largest venue at Yokohama, which hosted the 2002 World Cup final, having a capacity of just 70,000.

"Even if (Tokyo's bid) fails it does not mean we will automatically pull out (of the World Cup bidding)," Inukai told reporters on Monday. "We will examine the possibility of hosting the World Cup independently."

The JFA told Reuters on Tuesday there was no confusion or difference of opinion between the association's top two officials despite the apparent U-turn made by Inukai.

The hosts for both the 2018 and 2022 tournaments will be announced in December 2010.

England, Russia, Australia, and the United States are among other candidates. Spain and Portugal, along with Belgium and the Netherlands, have submitted joint initial bids.

The 2010 World Cup will be held in South Africa while Brazil will host the 2014 tournament.