TOKYO – At least two matches in the Rugby World Cup have been canceled as Typhoon Hagibis heads towards Japan.
Organizers announced on Thursday that the approaching storm had forced them to cancel some of the matches that were scheduled for Saturday.
New Zealand and Italy’s game, which was due to be held at Toyota City Stadium, outside Nagoya city, and England and France’s clash at the International Stadium Yokohama in Tokyo have both been called off.
“The decision to cancel matches has not been taken lightly and has been made in the best interests of public, team, tournament personnel and volunteer safety, based on expert advice and detailed weather information,” a statement said.
If the two matches are not rescheduled, all the four teams involved will receive two points each.
Alan Gilpin, World Rugby Chief Operating Officer and Tournament Director, said at a press conference: “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.
“They will be entitled to a full refund on their match tickets.”
He added: “Our message for all fans in Japan for Rugby World Cup is to heed all official advice, stay indoors throughout Saturday and do not attempt to travel on the day.”
Ireland and Samoa’s match on Saturday is due to go ahead as scheduled at the Level-5 Stadium in the southwestern city of Fukuoka.
Authorities expect that Fukuoka will remain out of the typhoon’s reach.
England has already secured its place in the last-eight round, its matches are to be contested on October 19-20, but it has not been confirmed if the English team will play Wales or Australia.
Three-time world champion New Zealand’s rival in the quarters has also yet to be determined, it may be Japan, Ireland or Scotland.
South Africa is in the same boat as New Zealand, the team’s opponent in the next round depends on the results of the group stage remaining matches.
The organizers added: “Every effort is being made to ensure Sunday’s matches will be played as scheduled.
“A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the typhoon has passed before a final decision is made on Sunday morning.”