• Kyodo

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Japan on Friday expressed interest in staging the 2018 World Cup, although the country’s soccer association chief admitted staging the sport’s showcase tournament would depend on whether Tokyo wins the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“We will tell FIFA we will be putting our hands up,” Japan Football Association head Motoaki Inukai said in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, where a JFA board meeting was being held.

“But it is an absolutely requirement that Tokyo succeeds in its bid to stage the 2016 Olympics. In the event that it fails, it would be physically impossible to host the World Cup.”

FIFA has set a Feb. 2 deadline for bidders to express their interest in hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. It will decide which country stages the events in December 2010.

A successful World Cup host would need at least 12 stadiums with minimum capacities of 40,000, while a requirement Japan does not yet meet is an 80,000 capacity stadium for the final.

Victory for Tokyo in the race to win the Olympics, however, would solve that problem with the erection of a new Olympic main stadium and the renovation of Tokyo’s National Stadium.

Tulio doubtful

IBUSUKI , Kagoshima Pref. (Kyodo) Japan’s preparations for its crunch World Cup qualifier at home to Australia has suffered a blow after coach Takeshi Okada revealed Friday key defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka is unlikely to be fit for the Feb. 11 Group A clash in Yokohama.

Doctors at Tulio’s club Urawa Reds have been keeping Okada updated on the 27-year-old’s progress after he underwent endoscopic surgery on his left knee in December and said he still needs two weeks just for the knee joints to regain strength.

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