PSG announces three-match pre-season tour as Japan opens up

Paris Saint-Germain will play three pre-season matches in Japan in July, becoming the first European club to visit the country since 2019.

PSG managing director Sebastian Vassell speaks during a news conference for the club’s pre-season tour in Japan, at a hotel in Tokyo on Thursday.   -  AP

French champion Paris St Germain will play three pre-season matches in Japan in July, becoming the first European club to visit the country since 2019.

The Qatar-owned outfit announced on Thursday that it will face J1 League sides Kawasaki Frontale, Urawa Red Diamonds and Gamba Osaka on July 20, 23 and 25 respectively.

PSG, which won a 10th French title last month, will be the first club from Europe to visit Japan since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The country has largely closed itself off over the last two-and-a-half years to visiting teams and sporting events but is showing increasing signs of opening up. The 2020 Olympics were among the events affected by the pandemic, with the Tokyo Games postponed by 12 months, while the southern city of Fukuoka deferred its hosting of the world swimming championships this year until 2023.

However, Japan continued to hold matches in Asia’s preliminary rounds for November’s World Cup under tight restrictions as the Samurai Blue qualified for the finals in Qatar.

The national team will play friendlies against Paraguay and Brazil in June and will also feature in the Kirin Cup, which sees the Japanese side joined by Ghana, Chile and Tunisia in a four-team tournament. The East Asian Championships will be held in Japan in July too, with the nation stepping in to host the competition after China relinquished the rights to run the regional tournament due the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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