The arrival of the giant typhoon Hagibis in Japan obliges the organizers of the Rugby World Cup to cancel some meetings scheduled this Saturday, October 12, 2019, including the match England-France. The Formula 1 Grand Prix is also under threat.
The England-France and New Zealand-Italy matches, which were to be played on Saturday in Yokohama and Toyota, were canceled Thursday by the organizers of the Rugby World Cup, because of the typhoon Hagibis which must touch at the end of the week. megalopolis of Tokyo. "We have decided to cancel some matches based on the latest weather forecast that we have seen this morning," said Alan Gilpin, the director of the World Cup.
In contrast, the match Ireland-Samoa, scheduled also Saturday in Fukuoka has been maintained, as the meeting Australia-Georgia Friday in Shizuoka. This is the first match cancellation in the history of the Rugby World Cup, a competition created in 1987.
At ten months of the Tokyo Olympics (July 24-August 9, 2020), this cancellation will revive questions about Japan's ability to host major international competitions due to natural conditions (earthquakes) and climate (typhoons, strong humid heat in summer).
"We have absolutely no regrets. What we have seen in the first three weeks reinforces the fact that it was the right decision to come to Japan, " said Alan Gilpin, also Organizational Director of World Rugby, the International Federation. In case of cancellation, the rules provide that the match is considered as null (score 0-0). Each team is awarded two points in the standings.
The match England-France was to oppose two teams already qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup. The cancellation of the match leading to a draw between the two teams (0-0), England will finish at the top of Pool C, ahead of France. The draw between New Zealand and Italy qualifies the All Blacks for the quarter-finals. The double world champions finish at the top of their group in front of South Africa.
The FFR "takes note"
The French Rugby Federation (FFR) said, through the voice of its vice president Serge Simon, take "act" of World Rugby's decision, on Thursday, to cancel the England-France World Cup match, scheduled for Saturday in Yokohama, because of typhoon Hagibis.
"The French Federation takes note of the decision of World Rugby," Serge Simon told the press in Kumamoto, reading the statement issued a few minutes earlier by the FFR. In this one, the FFR "calls all its supporters to follow the instructions of the local authorities or the embassy of France and associates itself fully with their disappointment" . "The World Rugby institution has assured the Federation that all tickets issued will be refunded and that it will communicate with those concerned as quickly as possible," he added.
Typhoon among the most powerful
Typhoon Hagibis, one of the most powerful of the last decades in the region, should touch this weekend a large part of Japan, where are scheduled several matches of the Rugby World Cup as well as the Japanese F1 Grand Prix. on the Suzuka circuit, located southwest of Tokyo.
Currently classified as a "violent" typhoon, at the very top of the cyclonic intensity scale in Japan, Hagibis was heading for the south-east of the country, and could melt into the Tokyo area on Saturday, Japanese meteorologists warned on Wednesday. .
According to a Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) official, the current power of Hagibis is similar to that of four of the biggest typhoons Japan has seen in recent decades, including Faxai last month, which caused significant damage to Chiba, in the suburbs of Tokyo. For Saturday, "we expect wind speeds of 45 meters per second" or 162 km / h, said the official at a press point. Very strong winds will be accompanied by torrential rains.
In particular, the authorities anticipate major problems in transport in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, which has some 38 million inhabitants. Some 70,000 spectators, including many supporters of both teams, were to attend the England-France meeting in Yokohama, in the southern suburbs of the capital, while the Toyota stadium where New Zealand-Italy was scheduled to host 50 000 spectators.
1.8 million tickets sold
Another match, Japan-Scotland, scheduled Sunday in Yokohama, is also under threat from the typhoon. This meeting will be decisive in the race to qualify for the quarter-finals. No decision has been announced for this match. The other weekend meetings are scheduled in southern Japan and Kyushu Island.
The first global sports event organized by Japan since the Football World Cup co-hosted with South Korea in 2002, the Rugby World Cup, for which 1.8 million tickets were sold, started on September 20 and must end on November 2, with the final scheduled in Yokohama.
F1 in suspension
"The International Automobile Federation, Formula 1, Suzuka Circuit and the Japan Automobile Federation are keeping a close eye on Typhoon Hagibis and its potential impact on the F1 Grand Prix this weekend. insured side the FIA, Thursday.
Hagibis, announced as one of the most powerful typhoons in recent decades in the region, is expected to hit a large part of Japan from Saturday. "Every effort is made to minimize the disruption of the Formula 1 program, but the safety of fans, competitors and everyone on the Suzuka circuit remains the top priority," the FIA said in a statement. "All parties continue to monitor the situation and will provide additional information in a timely manner," adds the governing body of auto sport.
Hagibis is described as "violent" , the highest degree of classification used by the Japanese Weather Agency (JMA), and causes gusts of wind reaching 280 km / h. "It is currently a large and violent typhoon, told AFP a meteorologist JMA. As he moves north and approaches Japan, he will be downgraded to + very strong +. But he will not be less violent when he arrives. "
The French driver Jules Bianchi was the victim of a serious accident that later caused his death in very bad weather related to another typhoon during the 2014 edition of the race. The first two free practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, followed by free practice 3 and Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race.
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