• Kyodo

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Sporting events scheduled for Saturday in southwestern Japan and elsewhere were called off due to a series of massive earthquakes that first shook the island of Kyushu Thursday evening.

Soccer and baseball games that were to be played in or near the quake-hit areas were canceled for safety reasons as aftershocks continued and a biggest-yet magnitude-7.3 temblor struck early Saturday morning.

In the J. League first division, matches between Avispa Fukuoka and Nagoya Grampus at Level-5 Stadium in Fukuoka and Sagan Tosu and Vissel Kobe at Best Amenity Stadium in Tosu, Saga Prefecture, will not be played.

The cancellation of two second-division and two third-division matches were also announced.

In NPB, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks-Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles game scheduled to take place at Yafuoku Dome in Fukuoka was called off. The Yomiuri Giants-Chunichi Dragons games that were to be played at Fujisakidai Stadium in Kumamoto Tuesday, and at Kamoike Stadium in Kagoshima Prefecture, south of Kumamoto, on Wednesday, have also been canceled.

The Hawks didn’t immediately announce whether Sunday’s game — the finale of a three-game series against Rakuten at home — will go ahead as planned.

It is the first time that a baseball game has been canceled because of an earthquake since the Rakuten-Yomiuri game at Kobo Stadium (then Kleenex Stadium) in June 2008.

Horse racing and keirin cycling events in Kumamoto and Fukuoka prefectures, respectively, have also been canceled.

In men’s basketball, the NBL series finale between the Toshiba Brave Thunders and the Kumamoto Volters at Todoroki Arena in Kawasaki has been also canceled. Toshiba won Friday’s game 98-75.

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