Japan's national women's football team are preparing to play the first of their two final Olympic qualifying games against North Korea in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Japan Football Association announced Tuesday.

Norio Sasaki, the chairperson of the JFA women's committee, informed reporters in Chiba, east of Tokyo, that the team and their staff will depart for Saudi Arabia on two flights Tuesday night. The Asian Football Confederation on Monday instructed the JFA to prepare to play there.

Japan Football Association executive Norio Sasaki speaks to reporters in Chiba on Feb. 20, 2024. (Kyodo)

Saturday's first game of the home-and-away fixture to decide one of Asia's two berths in the 2024 Paris Olympic women's tournament was originally to be held at Kim Il Sung Stadium in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang.

The JFA asked the AFC to move the first leg to a neutral venue, citing the scarcity of flights between Japan and Pyongyang, delays in working with the North Korean hosts and a lack of match-operations transparency.

Although it asked North Korea to come up with an alternate venue, the AFC ultimately leaned toward Saudi Arabia. A venue in China was suggested, but the process was complicated by the extreme lack of time for finalizing matters before Saturday's kickoff.

Nadeshiko Japan host their home leg at Tokyo's National Stadium four days later.

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