KAMAISHI, Japan — Canada will leave the Rugby World Cup winless for the second straight tournament, with the weather tying its hands this time.
Video: Two dead as Typhoon Hagibis hits Japan
Tournament organizers decided to cancel Canadas final Pool B game against Namibia because of Typhoon Hagibis. The game was due to kick off at 12:15 p.m. local time Sunday at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium (late Saturday night in Canada).
“I think its still sinking in,” a disappointed Canada coach Kingsley Jones said. “Its a unique situation at test (match) level. It doesnt happen very often, if ever. But its happened.”
World Rugby issued a statement saying an evacuation order remained in place in the Kamaishi area and there had been landslides and flooding in the vicinity of the stadium.
“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,” World Rugby said.
The Canadian team, which is slated to leave for home Monday, was restricted to its hotel early Sunday.
Video: Rivers swell, drains overflow in Tokyo as Typhoon Hagibis nears
Two of Saturdays three scheduled games — New Zealand against Italy and England against France — were cancelled well before the destructive typhoon made landfall. Organizers eventually decided to go ahead with Scotland versus Japan in Yokohama later Sunday.
Moving the Japan-Scotland game to Monday might be an option, but it would be giving Japan and Scotland an unfair opportunity that was denied to England, France, New Zealand and Italy. I personally wanted to see England play France. If you move one game, then all three games should have been moved. My solution would have been to have the New Zealand-Italy and England-France games played yesterday since they were already at their stadium cities anyway. Then it would have been acceptable to move the Japan-Scotland game to Monday if necessary.
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Canada, ranked 22nd in the world, had targeted the game against No. 23 Namibia as its best chance at a victory.
Tokyo area shuts down as powerful typhoon lashes Japan
Both teams had previously lost to No. 1 New Zealand, No. 5 South Africa and No. 12 Italy. While the teams were tied at two points apiece, Namibia finished fourth in the pool ahead of Canada on points difference (minus-141 for Namibia and minus-163 for Canada).
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“We completely understand the decision given the conditions were facing here,” Canadian media manager Gareth Rees said in a video showing the wind-whipped waves on Kamaishi.
Hagibis has already forced rivers to overflow in Nagano Prefecture. Three cars were washed away by flood waters near the Chikuma River. Three people have been rescued but three others are missing.
Video: Super-typhoon Hagibis tears through Japan toward Tokyo | DW News
“Following extensive discussions with World Rugby, Kamaishi City and Iwate Prefecture, during which we considered every possibility to make this game happen, in the end we had no option but to cancel the match to ensure the safety of the fans, team, volunteers, and all others involved,” organizing committee chief executive Akira Shimazu said.
“It was both a difficult and emotional decision to make, however I feel its the right decision and firmly believe both domestic and foreign fans will understand the decision was made to ensure safety.”
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The Canadian men, who went 0-4-0 at the 2015 tournament, have not won a game at the world Cup since a 25-20 victory over Tonga at the 2011 competition. They have lost their last eight tournament matches, outscored 387-87 in the process.
Typhoon Hagibis leaves path of destruction through Japan
The Japan Meteorological Agency had forecast the typhoon to be the worst to hit Japan in six decades. It brought heavy rainfall in wide areas of Japan all day ahead of its landfall early Saturday evening, and continued to batter parts of the main island with heavy winds and torrents of rain overnight.
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 shook the areas drenched by the rainfall, shortly before the typhoon made landfall in Shizuoka prefecture.
Heavy rain, winds lash Tokyo as powerful typhoon hits Japan
Tokyo and surrounding areas braced for a powerful typhoon forecast as the worst in six decades, with streets and trains stations unusually quiet Saturday as rain poured over the city.
Store shelves were bare after people stocked up on water and food. Nearby beaches had not a surfer in sight, only towering dashing waves.
The storm, which the government said could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958, brought record-breaking rainfall in many areas, including the popular resort town of Hakone, which was hit with 939.5 mm (37 inches) of rain over 24 hours.
2 killed as Typhoon Hagibis paralyzes Tokyo
Typhoon Hagibis, closing in from the Pacific, is expected to bring up to 80 centimetres of rain in the Tokyo area, including Chiba to the north that had suffered power outages from a typhoon that hit last month, and some buildings remained partly repaired.
Rugby World Cup matches, concerts and other events have been cancelled. Flights were grounded and train services halted. Authorities acted quickly, with warnings issued earlier this week, including urging people to stay indoors.
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Some residents taped up their apartment windows in case they shattered. TV talks shows showed footage of household items like a slipper bashing through glass when hurled by winds as powerful as the approaching typhoon.
The typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958 left more than 1,200 people dead and a half-million houses flooded.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abes Cabinet held a disaster management meeting Friday. He said 17,000 police and military troops were ready for rescue operations.
The typhoon could cause power outages, damage to infrastructure and significantly affect peoples lives, Abe said.
Two dams began to release some of their waters and other dams in the area may take similar measures, as waters were nearing limits, public broadcaster NHK reported. An overflooded dam is likely to cause greater damage, and so releasing some water gradually is a standard emergency measure, but the released water added to the heavy rainfall could be dangerous, causing rivers to flood.
Hagibis, which means speed in the Philippine language Tagalog, was advancing north-northwestward with maximum sustained winds of 162 kilometres per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. It was expected to make landfall near Tokyo later Saturday and then pass out to sea eastward.
Evacuation advisories have been issued for risk areas, including Shimoda city, west of Tokyo. Dozens of evacuation centers were opening in coastal towns, and people were resting on gymnasium floors, saying they hoped their homes were still there after the storm passed.
The storm has disrupted this nations three-day weekend, which includes Sports Day on Monday. Qualifying for a Formula One auto race in Suzuka was pushed to Sunday. The Defense Ministry cut a three-day annual navy review to a single day on Monday.
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All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded most domestic and international flights scheduled Saturday at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya airports. Central Japan Railway Co. said it will cancel all bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka except for several early Saturday trains connecting Nagoya and Osaka. Tokyo Disneyland was closed.