Italy knocked out as ty­phoon hits Rugby World Cup in Japan

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport -

Tokyo: Rugby World Cup or­gan­is­ers were forced to call off matches for the first time in the tour­na­ment’s 32-year his­tory on Thurs­day - elim­i­nat­ing Italy as a re­sult - say­ing the risk from Ty­phoon Hag­ibis made host­ing them an im­pos­si­bil­ity on safety grounds.

With the huge storm set to po­ten­tially dev­as­tate parts of Japan, Italy’s game against New Zealand in Toy­ota and Eng­land’s match against France in Yoko­hama on Satur­day have been can­celled while Japan’s game against Scot­land on Sun­day is also in doubt.

The host na­tion would ad­vance to the quar­ter-fi­nals for the first time if their game in Yoko­hama is called off. The sport’s govern­ing body World Rugby and tour­na­ment of­fi­cials told a news con­fer­ence the de­ci­sion had been taken due to the huge dis­rup­tion ex­pected from the ty­phoon, pre­dicted to be one of the most vi­o­lent to hit the re­gion in re­cent years.

“While mak­ing every pos­si­ble ef­fort to put in place a con­tin­gency plan that would en­able all of Satur­day’s matches to be played, it would be grossly ir­re­spon­si­ble to leave teams, fans, vol­un­teers and other tour­na­ment per­son­nel ex­posed dur­ing what is pre­dicted to be a se­vere ty­phoon,” said tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Alan Gilpin. “We fully ap­pre­ci­ate that Eng­land, France, New Zealand and Italy fans will be dis­ap­pointed, but we trust they will ap­pre­ci­ate that their safety must come first.”

Su­per Ty­phoon Hag­ibis is head­ing north to­ward Japan’s main is­land and could make land­fall on Satur­day, with tor­ren­tial rain, high winds, storm surges and high waves ex­pected. Other events are also be­ing hit.

Or­gan­is­ers of Sun­day’s Ja­pa­nese For­mula One Grand Prix, ob­vi­ously mind­ful of the fact that driver Jules Bianchi died af­ter a crash at Suzuka in 2014 when the track was soaked by Ty­phoon Phan­fone, are closely mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion, while a 2020 Olympics BMX cy­cling test event has been brought for­ward.

Ja­pa­nese F1GP in doubt too

Suzuka: Ja­pa­nese Grand Prix or­gan­is­ers will de­cide at noon Fri­day if the race week­end timetable, in­clud­ing Satur­day qual­i­fy­ing, can go ahead as Su­per Ty­phoon Hag­ibis threat­ens the Suzuka cir­cuit. A spokesper­son for the govern­ing body FIA told AFP Thurs­day that any de­ci­sion to change the week­end pro­gramme rested with the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in con­sul­ta­tion with the FIA and For­mula One. Two mi­nor support races sched­uled for Satur­day at Suzuka have al­ready been scrapped as a pre­cau­tion. Satur­day’s third free prac­tice ses­sion and qual­i­fy­ing are likely to fol­low suit.

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