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Japan Football Association head Motoaki Inukai said Monday that even if Japan fails to win the bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, it does not mean the country will drop out of the race to stage the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.

“Just because the bid doesn’t work out for Tokyo 2016 won’t mean we will automatically give up on staging the World Cup,” Inukai said.

Japan and 2002 World Cup cohost South Korea are among 13 countries which formally expressed interest in staging the 2018 or 2022 World Cups earlier this month. FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, will decide which countries stage the events in December 2010.

In a meeting of sports editors, Inukai said in a speech that the JFA is considering independently pursuing bringing the World Cup to Japan whether or not Tokyo is selected as the host city of the 2016 Summer Games.

This was in stark contrast to a statement Inukai made last month when he said it would be “physically impossible to host a World Cup” if Tokyo failed in its bid.

His latest comments indicate that even if Japan has to abandon trying to stage a World Cup in 2018 because of a failed Tokyo Olympic bid, there is still the possibility of jumping in the race for 2022.

A requirement Japan does not yet meet is an 80,000-capacity stadium for the opening match and final.

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