World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper admitted he was fearful the build-up to the 2019 World Cup would be overshadowed by the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games ©Twitter

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has admitted he fears the build-up to the 2019 World Cup could be overshadowed by the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo but claimed preparations for the tournament were firmly on track.

Gosper was speaking here at the end of a week-long inspection visit, involving other senior officials from the worldwide governing body, as well as the Organising Committee.

The Australian believes the event will be "for the whole of Japan", pointing out the long-term benefits staging the tournament could have for the country - the first-ever Asian host of the Rugby World Cup.

"I do think it’s important that we remind the people of Japan that there are two very, very big events that will be arriving in this country, and not just one which is the Olympics," Gosper told the Japan Times.

"What’s important is that people realise that the Rugby World Cup is probably the third-biggest event on the planet after the Olympics and FIFA World Cup.

"And it is every bit as big and involving a sporting event as the Olympics for the entire population, because of the different centres where rugby will be played around the country."

Gosper claims the Rugby World Cup in three years’ time will generate a $2.5 billion (£2 billion/€2.3 billion) boost to the entire country during the tournament, scheduled to take place from September 20 to November 2.

The event is due to get underway with the opening fixture at the Ajinomoto Stadium here, with the final set to be held at the world-famous Yokohama Stadium, the venue for the 2002 FIFA World Cup final.

The Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo will host the opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup ©Getty Images
The Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo will host the opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup ©Getty Images

"Japan 2019 will be an event where 75 percent of the population will be within one hour of every match," Gosper added.

"There will be significant economic, social and sporting benefits beyond just one city.

"Every host city and prefecture will have a role to play, and the rewards are extensive.

"From budgets to venue planning, tournament preparation is on track and the foundations are in place for a very special tournament."

Preparations will ramp up a notch next year with the pool stage draw, before the unveiling of the full match schedule and ticketing process follows shortly after.

"If you think of it as a 400-meter race, the stage we are at now is around the first corner," Japan 2019 chief executive Akira Shimazu told the Japan Times.

"In other words, all aspect of our preparations are underway.

"The small details are still to come.

"There are still some things to work on with the stadiums, but we will take that on and work toward that."

It has also been confirmed World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont will travel here next week to attend the World Forum on Sport and Culture in Tokyo alongside International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and International Paralympic Committee counterpart Philip Craven.

Rugby has enjoyed rapid development in Japan, particularly following the team’s exploits at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Japan recorded one of the biggest upsets in Rugby World Cup history when they earned a famous 34-32 victory over South Africa in Brighton.