• Kyodo

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High school baseball officials decided Wednesday to ban scandal-hit Meitoku Gijuku from this fall’s regional tournament, which holds the key to the selection of teams for the national invitational meet next spring.

The move by the Japan High School Baseball Federation followed the revelation early this month that freshman and sophomore members of the Meitoku Gijuku team smoked cigarettes in its dormitory and upperclassmen physically bullied younger students on the team.

The incidents surfaced shortly after Meitoku Gijuku, the 2002 national champion, booked its place in the national high school championship being held at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture for the eighth consecutive year and 12th overall.

Meitoku Gijuku later withdrew and was replaced by Kochi high school, runnerup in the Kochi prefectural tournament.

High school baseball officials select teams for the spring national invitational tournament largely on the basis of the results of the regional tournaments held nationwide in the autumn.

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