2002 FIFA World Cup

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The 2002 FIFA World Cup starts tomorrow. The papers are full of articles about hooligans and what's being done to avoid trouble. Extra police are on alert, of course.

To support that, pachinko parlor owners have agreed not to install any new machines during the World Cup because the law states that police must be on hand for such installations, so this frees up a few patrolmen for Cup duties. How quirky!

In a positive spirit, one town council printed up a pamphlet for shopkeepers with tips and phrases to help them greet visitors (including "England are a great team" spelled out in katakana.) I've noticed more signs and directions for visitors--little "Welcome to Tokyo!" stickers on the train doors, and a multi-lingual poster explaining the guide symbols in the subway system.

There's a special "hooligans" list that Immigration authorities are using to check all incoming visitors. Two British men on the list were turned back from Turkey earlier this week; yesterday another one, arriving from London with 175 game tickets was deported. A few men from Mexico were arrested for attempting to steal someone's wallet.

The general press is full of stuff like this--but not too much info on the upcoming matches, the rivalry between teams, or why this is at all important in the world of sport. And not a word of what's going on in Korea, where the tournament is being co-hosted. Maybe I'm just not reading enough of the Sports section.

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