The Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) has cancelled the remaining 42 matches of the 2020 Top League season in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The JRFU initially suspended Top League play for three weeks, but given the ongoing fear and worldwide spread of the deadly virus, authorities have now called off the tournament.
In a statement, organisers said they were taking the step because many players would be returning to their home countries after New Zealand, Australia, and others urged the return of their expatriated citizens.
It was also confirmed that the JRFU is still considering making a decision as to which four teams will play in the All-Japan Championship (normally it is the Top League semi-finalists) scheduled to take place in May.
But according to veteran rugby journalist Rich Freeman, who is based in Japan, it is highly unlikely that the All-Japan Championship will go ahead given that so many players and coaches have returned to their home countries and won’t be able to return to Japan because of the various international travel bans in place.
A number of South Africans currently ply their trade in Japan in several of the 16 teams competing at the highest level.
As of Monday morning, Japan has a total of 1 101 coronavirus cases with 41 deaths reported.
JRFU confirm Top League has been cancelled.— Rich Freeman (@FreemanrugbyJPN) March 23, 2020
Still considering making decision as to which 4 teams will play in All-Japan C'ship, which is scheduled to be held from May 23.
But given so many coaches/players overseas and can't get back seems unlikely that will go ahead.#rugbyjp pic.twitter.com/ZJf8dcgv7w