By David Gold

Japan defeat_Mexico_in_Under-20_Womens_World_Cup_Sept_4September 5 - Tokyo 2020 are hoping that its successful hosting of the under-20 Women's World Cup, which is currently being attended by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, is helping demonstrate how the Olympics and Paralympics could help Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami which struck the country last year.

Among the venues being used is Miyagi area of Japan, which was particularly badly hit by the disaster in March 2011, but is still playing a major role in the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup by hosting six matches. 

The area was at the centre of the disaster on March 11 when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a subsequent major tsunami hit Miyagi Prefecture, causing major damage to the area.

The tsunami was estimated to be approximately 10 meters high in Miyagi Prefecture.

Less than a month later a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Miyagi, forcing residents to flee for inner land.

FIFA donated $6.4 million (€5 million/£4 million) to the recovery efforts.

"Thank you for showing your interest in football and congratulations for the organisation of the tournament," said Sepp Blatter, who is now in the Japanese capital to attend this weekend's final.

"I'm happy that Miyagi was used as a venue, with the Government and Japanese Football Association putting a lot of effort and energy into rebuilding the affected area.

"Football connects people and it was good that they could be unified around football."

Japan's rime Minister Yoshihiko Noda expressed his appreciation for FIFA's help.

"Thank you for FIFA's support to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami last year," he said.

Joseph Blatter_presents_a_FIFA_medal_and_banner_to_Japanese_Prime_Minister_Yoshihiko_NodaJoseph Blatter (left) presenting a FIFA medal and banner to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda during his visit to Japan

"To host the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup gave hope and courage in the various venues where the competition was held.

"Unfortunately, Japan didn't make it to the final but it has still been important to help aid the recovery of the Japanese people.

"They see that football has many similarities to their daily life, they have to fight to win.

"It is important for Japan to continue to host international events, and Tokyo is currently bidding to host the Olympic Games in 2020.

"For now though, we look forward to Saturday (September 8) and we hope the Young Nadeshiko will now win the bronze medal."

Another venue which has been staging games during the tournament is the iconic Kasumigaoka stadium in Tokyo, which was the main venue for the 1964 Olympics held in the Japanese capital.

The Stadium has also held the Asian Games and World Athletics Championships.

Fans Japanese_fans_cheer_on_their_U-20_womens_national_team_Sept_6Japanese fans cheer on their under-20 womens national team at the Kasumigaoka Stadium

It is also the site of the proposed main stadium for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympics if Tokyo fends off competition from Madrid and Istanbul to win the right to host the event.

The Kasumigaoka will also hold games during the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

The Japanese Sport Council is currently soliciting proposed designs for the venue.

The ground is also the host stadium of the Japanese national team, and will host this weekend's final, which will be a good opportunity to impress Blatter, who, as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), will have a vote on September 7 next year the election is due to take place.

The Tokyo 2020 President Tsunekazu Takeda, also the Japanese Olympic Committee President, was thrilled that the Kasumigaoka was playing a part in this year's World Cup.

"The Kasumigaoka National Stadium site is a symbol of Japan's commitment to maintain the legacy of the 1964 Olympic Games," said Takeda.

"We are delighted women's football is gaining popularity both domestically and internationally, and believe this is great for international sport.

"The FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup Japan 2012 is showcasing Tokyo's amazing ability to host world-class events, and we are fully leveraging these same skills and know-how in our bid to host the world in 2020."

The World Cup concludes on Sunday (September 9), when the United States face Germany in the final, with Japan taking on Nigeria for third place.

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