One of the biggest tropical cyclones in decades hit Japan on Saturday, causing widespread damage and leaving at least three dead and several more missing.
As a result of the level five evacuation order remaining in place across large areas of Japan, World rugby has taken the decision to cancel the Pool B match in Kamaishi, having already strongly advised fans not to travel to the stadium as it was unsafe to do so.
A World Rugby statement read: “Owing to the level 5 evacuation order remaining operational following Typhoon Hagibis, World Rugby and the Japan 2019 Organising Committee have cancelled today’s Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool B match between Namibia and Canada in Kamaishi on safety grounds.
“Typhoon Hagibis was one of the most powerful storms to hit Japan in decades and safety considerations are at the heart of the decision. Kamaishi is situated in a highly mountainous area, including mountains directly behind the main stand of the stadium. There have been landslides and flooding in the vicinity of the stadium and along access roads to the venue following torrential rain throughout the night.
“The safety of all involved in Rugby World Cup 2019 is our primary consideration and fans are advised not to travel to Kamaishi or the venue, which will be closed. Ticket holders will be entitled to a full face-value refund.”
The match is the third game this weekend to be cancelled, following the early decision to scrap England’s encounter with France and New Zealand’s clash against Italy, both of which were scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
World Rugby Chief Operating Officer and Tournament Director Alan Gilpin said: “The safety of teams, fans, volunteers and workforce is our number one priority. Following strong direction from the Prefecture of Iwate and the City of Kamaishi, we were left with no option but to cancel the match on safety grounds.
“We have been liaising closely with the city and the venue over the past 24 hours and have informed the teams. In line with the direction of the local authorities, we are making the difficult, but right decision to cancel the match.
“Our hearts go out to the teams and also their fans, but also the people of Kamaishi, who have been incredible during what has been a special journey in recent years. Nobody will be more disappointed than them, but also nobody would have better empathy with the decision.
“We remain optimistic that Sunday’s remaining matches will go ahead as scheduled in Kumamoto, Hanazono and Yokohama, which are much further south and therefore outside of the impact of the storm conditions this morning.”
World Rugby have since confirmed that the Pool C match between USA and Tonga at Hanazono and the Pool D match between Wales and Uruguay at Kumamoto will both go ahead as planned, though fans are waiting nervously over the final pool match involving Japan and Scotland, with the suggested being that it could be played behind closed doors.
A final decision is expected this morning.
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