Typhoon Hagibis has forced organisers to cancel two matches at the Rugby World Cup in an unwanted 32-year first for the event.
Matches scheduled for Saturday between England and France, and New Zealand and Italy have been abandoned, with organisers describing their historic decision as "regrettable".
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The category 5 storm that is forecast to strike Japan on Saturday has caused major headaches for organisers, who on Thursday announced the first abandonments in the tournament's 32-year history.
The pool-deciding England match was scheduled for Yokohama, which is in the direct path of the tropical storm while New Zealand's match was to be in Toyota City, on the fringe.
The games were scheduled for the same day the category 5 storm is set to make landfall and organisers said in a statement they did not want to risk player, official and spectator safety.
They said the "risks were too challenging" to consider shifting the match venues.
A decision was still to be made on the status of matches on Sunday, including a key clash between Japan and Scotland in Yokohama.
“This is a complex and dynamic situation which we have been monitoring extremely closely with the assistance of our weather information experts,” World Rugby COO and Tournament Director Alan Gilpin said.
"We are now in a position to accurately predict the likely impact of Typhoon Hagibis on Rugby World Cup fixtures this weekend.
“As a result, we have taken the decision to cancel some matches in order to ensure the safety of all involved. It is the right thing to do, and comes with the support of all stakeholders, including the teams.
“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.”
England will progress as pool C winners into the quarter-finals, where they almost certainly would face Australia. Pool runners-up France would then face Wales.
Pool A leaders Japan against third-placed Scotland was shaping as the match of the tournament, with both teams still fighting for a quarter-final spot.
A cancellation would send the hosts through as group winners and shut the Scots out completely, however organisers said they would review that game after Saturday.
LIkewise, Italy could have snared an unlikely quarter-final spot and ousted the All Blacks if they'd won with a bonus point.
The Wallabies, who face Georgia 200km southwest of Tokyo in Shizuoka on Friday night, aren’t affected.
Michael Cheika's team are almost certain to finish second in pool D, sending them into a quarter-final against the pool C winners England.
England will be the underdone opponents for next week's quarter-final in Oita. They'll have played only three pool games, all comfortable wins over Tonga, USA and a 14-man Argentina.
Some fans weren’t particularly happy with the cancellations.
An absolute disgrace. 32 years and this is the first cancelled game in RWC history.— Alex McMahon. (@almacca93) October 10, 2019
Shambles considering the adverse weather conditions in Japan. There should've been a viable contingency plan in place to cope with a situation like this.
World Rugby showing its incompetence once again. Japan should either not have been selected as host or the RWC should have been delayed by month. It's not as if Typhoon season is an unknown phenomena it happens every year and games where always going to be cancelled.— Shaun (@TheTweetofShaun) October 10, 2019
OMG…………— keisukeosa (@KeisukeOsa) October 10, 2019
Not happy. These games should be played somehow.— Toxteth O'Grady (@WCAllBlacks) October 10, 2019
Appalling way to decide a game at a world cup 👎— Wayne Fegan (@WayneFegan) October 10, 2019
Almost like hosting the world cup in the midst of the strongest part of typhoon season may be leading to issues— Liam Devine (@liamdevine27) October 10, 2019
Really? This looks as bad a Qatar getting the football world Cup in the middle of summer. Who gave Japan the world Cup during the typhoon season... Did someone take a backhander, coz this is shite.— HikaBPerry (@Hika_Perry) October 10, 2019
The idea you can just cancel a World Cup fixture seems absurd to me. If there's a natural disaster then move the date/location on safety grounds. #RWC2019— ghww (@ghww) October 9, 2019
Really has to be moved to new stadium cancelling games would be a disaster and so unfair on teams https://t.co/1eKR28Az8D— world cup doyle (@doylej96) October 9, 2019
Formula One also at risk
Race organisers are likely to act cautiously after tragedy struck the Japanese Grand Prix of 2014, when Marussia driver Jules Bianchi lost control in heavy rain on the fringes of a typhoon, and remained in a coma until his death the following July.
At its current speed and trajectory, Hagibis is likely to bring its worst weather to the Suzuka track, west of Tokyo, on Saturday.
Organisers may choose to postpone Saturday's qualifying session until Sunday, the same day as the race, as happened in both 2004 and 2010 as typhoons threatened.
#Hagibis:— Matthew Cappucci (@MatthewCappucci) October 7, 2019
– Tropical storm to Category 5 in 18 hours
– Tropical storm to major hurricane equivalent in 6 hours
– 90 mph intensification in 18 hours
– 3.4 times faster than needed for "rapid intensification"
This is not a multi-day loop. This is 24 hours. It's mind-boggling. pic.twitter.com/cVoXuyCu09