Rugby players to hide tattoos in Japan

Rugby players with tattoos will cover them up during next year's World Cup in Japan. The sport's governing body World Rugby wants to avoid offending people in Japan, where tattoos are a taboo in public. Tattoos are usually associated with yakuza crime gangs in Japan. Many swimming pools, gyms, bath houses and onsen in Japan ban people with tattoos from entering. However, in 2016, Japan's tourism agency asked onsen and gyms to relax their rules because tourists had tattoos for different reasons. The agency suggested giving tourists stickers to cover the tattoos.

The Rugby World Cup director Alan Gilpin said the teams understood the cultural sensitivity about tattoos. He said: "When we raised it with the teams…we were probably expecting a frustrated reaction from them, but there hasn't been." He said the players want to respect Japanese culture. Players will wear a vest used for watersports as a form of "self-policing". The All Blacks team from New Zealand said its players will comply with the request. It said: "We endeavor to be respectful of the local customs and culture, and this will be no different when we visit Japan."