Japan may not turn out not to be the great bet World Rugby and Sanzar say it is.
It's looking a bit shaky at the moment — a bit of a loose cannon no one thought it possibly could be given the size of the economy.
No one in authority is going to admit their faith has been shaken — really shaken — by events in recent weeks, but it has. From being a trump card, Japan is shaping now as a joker but not one is generating many laughs.
Everyone — World Rugby in particular — was blindsided by the announcement last week that the National Stadium is not going to be built in time to host any games at the 2019 World Cup. Just like that, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the forecast costs of the proposed build had gotten out of hand and the project was to be scrapped.
Perhaps that shouldn't have been a surprise, as other projects designed by UK-based architect Zaha Hadid have run into similar problems, but clearly World Rugby had no idea this was on the cards.
"World Rugby is extremely disappointed by today's announcement that the new National Stadium will not be ready to host Rugby World Cup 2019 matches, despite repeated assurances to the contrary from the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee and Japan Sports Council," said a spokesman.
Just like that, the proposed venue for the 2019 final and most likely both semifinals has gone. A stadium will be built in Tokyo but only in time to host the 2020 Olympics and World Rugby are understandably spooked given a central plank of Japan's successful bid was the promise of the space age Hadid project.
The concern isn't so much around the logistics: the 72,000 seat International Stadium in Yokohama hosted the 2002 Fifa World Cup final and could pick up the final.
It's the lack of consultation that has thrown everyone. Recent World Cups have been strong and well connected partnerships between Rugby World Cup Limited and the governments and rugby administrators of the host nations. It's not possible to run a good tournament without strong political backing and the Japanese bid now appears flimsier than anyone appreciated.
Is the government as supportive as it needs to be and World Rugby might be wondering if there are other nasty surprises to come. Adding to the general nervousness about Japan is the Super Rugby situation.
The established Sanzar partners continue to say there is nothing to worry about but all three would be happier if there were a few marquee signings in the next month. At the moment, the Japanese team has the feel of a typical arts student — given months to hand in the coursework they could do with their eyes shut, they seem intent on leaving it until the night before and run the risk of royally stuffing it up.
Patience is being stretched but because Japan is the third largest economy in the world, World Rugby and Sanzar will hang in there, keeping mostly quiet while they fret away in private. No one wants to lose face — especially not when there is such a big bag of gold at the end of the rainbow.
What makes the situation particularly curious is that while Japan throws up nothing but doubts and questions, little old Samoa — the place Sanzar has steadfastly ignored and written off as a basket case — hosted the near perfect test match against the All Blacks.
Based on the past month, if the question is which of Samoa or Japan shapes as the better bet for Sanzar to bring into the fold — the answer is Samoa. And it's not even close.