Cities in Japan serving as hosts for World Cup soccer matches will set up large TV screens in gymnasiums to show the games, but few local residents have requested the free tickets being made available.

The response has been particularly low for matches that do not involve the Japanese national team, according to officials involved in the big-screen TV relays.

In Sendai, one of the 10 Japanese venues for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea Japan, officials say there have been only 100 applicants for the match between Mexico and Ecuador scheduled to be played there on June 9.

The city is putting up a large-screen TV monitor at the Sendai municipal gymnasium, which has a capacity for 5,000 people.

Sendai is offering large-screen video relay of five matches, inviting local residents to apply for 21,000 free tickets by mail. So far, requests have come in for less than 10 percent of the available tickets.

The soccer governing body FIFA has tight control over broadcast rights for World Cup matches, but it is allowing local authorities in Japan that serve as World Cup venues to broadcast the locally held matches as well as those involving the Japanese team.

Cities other than Sendai also appear to be struggling to generate local excitement for games not involving Japan.

Oita officials said they have distributed just 10 percent to 20 percent of the free tickets for large-screen TV shows covering non-Japan games.

In Kobe, such games have attracted fewer than 150 applicants, out of a total of 1,000 seats available for the series.

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