Sumary of The Distant Echo of a Raucous Match in Tokyo:
- CHOFU, Japan — One warm autumn afternoon two years ago, thousands of rugby fans converged on the plaza outside Chofu Station, in suburban Tokyo.
- Japan would play South Africa in a quarterfinal match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in a few hours.
- While the South Africans were heavy favorites, the mood was jubilant as Japanese fans mingled with supporters from around the world.
- “My family watched the games on television and were excited not only about the Japanese team’s games but also the foreign teams’ games,” he told me recently.
- Through the miasma of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s hard to recall that the wildly successful Rugby World Cup was once viewed as a warm-up for the Tokyo Olympics.
- Yet when the Japanese and South African soccer teams met on Thursday night, a day before the opening ceremony, it was clear that most of that good will and bonhomie had vanished.
- After the 1-0 Japanese win, the victors did not march around the grounds to thank their supporters;
- “In 2019, the Rugby World Cup was here, and I saw the opening game in this very stadium, and it was fully of energy,” Hajime Moriyasu, the coach of the Japanese soccer team, said after the game.