World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 organizing committee have been looking ahead to an important year of preparation as Rugby World Cup 2019 marks 1,000 days to go.

Host cities across Japan will join the global rugby family in celebrating the milestone on 24 December ahead of a year when the showcase event will come to life for the Japanese public and fans around the world and pivotal milestones will be delivered.

Early in 2017, the network of world-class team camps will be selected, bringing the tournament even closer to more communities across Japan. The pool draw in Kyoto in May will determine the key match-ups that fans will be talking about, triggering the match schedule and ticketing program that will underpin the delivery of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “2017 is the year when fans can really start to plan their Rugby World Cup experience as the pools, the match schedule and the ticketing programme will all be known. So it’s going to be an important year for event planning.

“Rugby World Cup plays a significant role in inspiring the next generation of rugby players and fans and a key objective of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup is to grow sustainable participation in Japan and throughout the entire continent.

“Next year, in partnership with Asia Rugby, we will be formally launching our IMPACT Beyond 2019 legacy program, an ambitious project to deliver one million new participants to the game in Asia by 2020 and the infrastructure to support them.

“As we enter a pivotal year for the tournament, I am pleased to say that preparation is on track and the solid foundations for the delivery of a successful event are very much in place. With 75 per cent of Japan’s population within an hour of a Rugby World Cup 2019 host venue, this will be a tournament for all of Japan.

“We continue to work in full partnership with our friends and colleagues at Japan Rugby 2019 to deliver a ground-breaking event that is great for Japan, great for Asia and great for the global game.”

The 1,000-days-to-go milestone will be marked by host cities the length and breadth of the nation undertaking a number of rugby participation and promotional activities. These include the famous Tokyo Tower being lit up in the Rugby World Cup 2019 colors, the unveiling of a countdown clock in Kamaishi, a tag rugby festival in Saitama, a photo exhibition in Oita, several promotional activities at Top League matches in Shizuoka, Aichi and Fukuoka as well as events hosted by other host cities in Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, Kumamoto, Sapporo and other locations.

JR 2019 Chief Executive Akira Shimazu said: “The entire rugby family in Japan is celebrating 1,000 days to go before we host what we hope will be an exceptional Rugby World Cup. We are progressing well towards that goal and we know that 2017 will be an important year for the tournament. In May, we will stage the pool draw in Kyoto and that will be followed closely by the announcement of the match schedule and the ticketing program.

“The deadline for applications from cities wishing to become team camps was 22 December and we are very pleased with the number and quality of those applications. It shows how the tournament is capturing the imagination of people all across Japan. JR 2019, together with the JRFU and the RWC 2019 host cities, have planned various events to celebrate 1,000 days to go and we are inviting all people in Japan to enjoy this special moment with us.”