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Page last updated at 18:37 GMT, Monday, 4 April 2011 19:37 UK

Japan to miss Copa America tournament in Argentina

Japan's national team
Japan have scrapped their plans to travel to South America

Japan has pulled out of this year's Copa America, leaving the 12-nation tournament with only 11 teams with the opening just three months away.

The decision comes as Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami which struck the north-east of the country on 11 March.

Japan and Mexico were invited to play in the quadrennial South American championship as guest nations.

The continent's 10 member federations take part as of right.

Japanese Football Association president Junji Ogura said: "The priority at this moment is to continue saving lives and rebuilding the country after the earthquake and tsunami.

"We are sorry to be pulling out because we recognise that we have advanced in football by being close to South American [teams]," Ogura added.

A spokesman for South American football's governing body Conmebol suggested Costa Rica or Canada as possible replacements but said nothing had been decided.

"Conmebol will make a final decision relying on the consensus of its members," he said.

He added that Japan would be invited to play in the 2015 Copa America, which is to be hosted by Brazil. Japan also played in the 1999 tournament.

The 2011 Copa America will be played from 1-24 July in Argentina.

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see also
J.League halted after earthquake
14 Mar 11 |  Sport Homepage
Crisis-hit Japan postpones MotoGP
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP
Tokyo cancels World skating event
22 Mar 11 |  Winter Sports

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