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Japan rugby star Fukuoka forced to ditch Olympic dream

Japan's Kenki Fukuoka, seen here scoring against Scotland at last year's World Cup, will not be going to the delayed Olympics
Japan's Kenki Fukuoka, seen here scoring against Scotland at last year's World Cup, will not be going to the delayed Olympics Odd ANDERSEN AFP
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Tokyo (AFP)

Japan rugby star Kenki Fukuoka, dubbed a "Ferrari" for his sheer pace at last year's World Cup, has pulled out of the running for next year's Olympics to focus on becoming a doctor.

Fukuoka, 27, said he would withdraw from the national rugby sevens team because the training schedule would interfere with his medical studies.

He had planned to leave the team after the Olympics, but their postponement until July 2021 over the coronavirus made it impossible to stay on, Fukuoka said.

"I had the strongest desire to live a life that I wouldn't regret," Fukuoka said on Sunday, adding he had thought long and hard about his decision.

One of the lightning Japanese wingers, along with Kotaro Matsushima, that head coach Jamie Joseph called his "Ferraris", Fukuoka said he had accepted the postponement as "fate" and would now focus on his medical school entrance exam.

Fukuoka still plans to play in the Top League next season, expected to begin in January, for the Panasonic Wild Knights.

The Brave Blossoms stunned Ireland and Scotland to reach the quarter-finals for the first time at the World Cup on home soil last year.

Fukuoka scored four tries during the tournament, including two in the Scotland match.

He retired from the 15-a-side national team after the World Cup but stayed on in sevens rugby.

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