The Japan Football Association (JFA) Monday gave up its bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup after determining that the project was already out of the running.
The surprise move leaves a heavily favored joint Australia and New Zealand bid as the likely winner over underdog Colombia when the FIFA Council holds an online election Thursday (June 25).
“Today, we decided to withdraw our bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup,” JFA President Kozo Tashima said during a press conference.
“I could not be more disappointed to have to make this very difficult decision.”
Tashima blamed Japan’s failed ambitions on the coronavirus pandemic that has already caused the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, now set to be staged in 2021. He said it would be challenging for Japan to host both major events in the now narrower timeframe, especially during the economic downturn.
He also suggested that the required campaigning needed to narrow the gap with the Australia and New Zealand project could not be effectively executed during the pandemic that has restricted global travel.
“It was a difficult decision,” Tashima said.
“Not getting support and losing will not lead to anything better in the future.”
Tashima said Japan will bid again for a future WWC, stressing the importance of the event in the development of Women’s football in Japan.
A June 10 FIFA report put Australia and New Zealand marginally ahead of Japan with average evaluation scores of 4.1 and 3.9 respectively.
Colombia sits further back with an average score of 2.8. FIFA suggested that organizers would require a significant amount of private investment to achieve the same success as the rival projects.
Brazil dropped out of the race earlier this month due to Covid-19 related financial issues.
France hosted the previous WWC in 2019.
The 2023 winning bid will stage a newly expanded 32 team tournament.