Italy knocked out as typhoon hits Rugby World Cup in Japan
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.