“Japan ‘malignant epidemic’?” North Korea tells AFC it will not host Pyongyang

Japan’s national soccer team’s trip to Pyongyang, North Korea, is unlikely to take place.

On June 21, a series of Japanese media outlets quoted Japan Football Association (JFA) President Kozo Tajima as saying that the Japan national team’s fourth Group B match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup North America, which was scheduled to be played at the Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang, 텍사스홀덤 North Korea on June 26, will not be held in Pyongyang.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency said, “The World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang has been canceled. North Korea has communicated its intention, and it is undecided whether to implement quarantine measures,” it reported.

Multiple sources have reported that North Korea has indicated that it will not be able to host the tournament in Pyongyang. North Korea is reportedly claiming that the decision was made as a precautionary measure in response to reports of a “virulent infectious disease spreading in Japan,” and that it is wary of the increasing number of cases of extremely virulent hemolytic streptococcal infections in Japan.

Japan held on to Ao Tanaka’s goal in the second minute of the first half to win their Group B qualifier against North Korea 1-0 at Tokyo National Stadium on Wednesday.

The team departed for Beijing on the 22nd, the day after the home game, with plans to arrive in Pyongyang before the 25th and play the away match on the 26th.

“We have decided not to hold the tournament in Pyongyang,” Tajima said after the match, explaining that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had received a document from North Korea canceling the tournament. North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper recently reported that a virulent infectious disease was spreading rapidly in Japan, and North Korea reportedly informed the AFC that it was “abandoning its hosting due to the spread of infectious diseases in Japan.” It will be interesting to see if the AFC accepts this, and if it decides to host a neutral venue, when and where.

In early March, the AFC conducted a site inspection in Pyongyang and confirmed that there were no obstacles to staging the tournament at Kim Il Sung Stadium. However, the Japanese women’s national team’s trip to Pyongyang for the first round of the Asian final qualifiers for the Paris Olympics in February was also canceled. The venue was hastily changed to neutral Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, three days before the match.

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