Japan sorry to be pulling out

[COPA AMERICA] Citing an "unprecedented crisis" in its domestic soccer following the earthquake and tsunami and nuclear crisis that devastated its northeast region, Japan has pulled out of the 2011 Copa America scheduled to be played July 1-25 in Argentina.

Japan and Mexico (set to send its U-23 team) were the two invitees to complete the 12-team field in the South American championship, but Japanese Football Association president Junji Ogura said, “The priority at this moment is to continue saving lives and rebuilding the country. We are sorry to be pulling out.”

Conmebol President Nicolas Leoz “deeply lamented” Japan’s withdrawal but did not make any announcement about how his organization would deal with the move.

Japan was scheduled to face host Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia in group play.

Japan's J-League has been suspended for five weeks, forcing the summer schedule to be rearranged. Japan also has to schedule Olympic 2012 and World Cup 2014 qualifiers.

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