Keen interest in Japan & Brazil

More than 5,000 Japanese football fans will hit Brisbane for the country's clash with world number one Brazil during the Olympic soccer tournament next month.

More than 5,000 Japanese football fans will hit Brisbane for the country's clash with world number one Brazil during the Olympic soccer tournament next month.

Japanese Air Lines (JAL) will run extra flights to cope with the influx, which is set to arrive in time for the September 20 clash with the gold-medal favourites.

The Japanese National Olympic Committee is behind the 5,300-strong contingent, which will also feature up to 350 Japanese newspaper and TV journalists.

SOCOG Brisbane event director Alan Vessey said the game was sold out, along with the quarter-final on September 23.

Brisbane will host six pool games and a quarter-final during the tournament from September 13 to 23 at the 37,500-seat Gabba, which was re-turfed for the event.

Mr Vessey said 67 per cent of tickets were sold so far, with 80 per cent expected to be sold by the opening ceremony on September 13.

"This event has the potential to go close to selling out in an overall sense," Mr Vessey said.

Soccer will account for 12 per cent of SOCOG's revenue at the Olympics, with 1.4 million tickets to be sold for games between 16 teams in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane.

Mr Vessey doused speculation of games being moved from Canberra and Melbourne because of problems with the state of the turf.

"I would be surprised if they moved any matches from Canberra," he said.

Brazil and world number two Czech Republic - runner-up behind Italy in Euro2000 - will lead the line-up in Brisbane against Slovakia, Kuwait, Cameroon and South Africa.

Thousands of unaccredited media are expected to follow the teams, with a special media centre opened today with access to wire service results.

Mr Vessey said SOCOG officials have low- to medium-level security plans in place, with the ability to ramp up arrangements if tensions develop over Games.

Brazil are favourites and have spent several months preparing their campaign, with team members expected to arrive at Carrara on the Gold Coast from today.

"It is the only medal in football they are yet to win," Mr Vessey said.
"Their preparation indicates they are quite serious about it."

Mr Vessey said the Brazilian officials visited Queensland six times to scout for training grounds before settling on the Gold Coast site which will be open to the public from tomorrow.

Meanwhile, he said up to 200 media from Brazil would join the team, which is staying at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast.

Kuwait is set to arrive on September 7, with Cameroon flying in from Hong Kong on September 9 after preparing in Europe.

Slovakia will wind up training in Perth before heading to Brisbane on September 10, with the remaining side playing in Canberra before hit-outs in Brisbane.

Mr Vessey said Brazil was in talks with the Brisbane Strikers to play up to two pre-Olympic games, but details were yet to be finalised.

"A lot of the teams have players who are coming out of Europe and it gives them the opportunity to put the team together and prepare it appropriately in time for the tournament," he said.

Kuwait and South Africa will play Australia in Melbourne ahead of the side's opening game against Italy.