The Japan High School Baseball Federation decided Wednesday to cancel this summer's edition of Japan's famed summer high school baseball tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the nation's largest amateur sporting event will not be held for the first time since World War II.
The National High School Baseball Championship, a two-week tournament broadcast nationwide, was scheduled to open on Aug. 10 at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.
Organizers decided to cancel the tournament during an online steering committee meeting. The decision was made official at a board meeting later Wednesday, a source close to the matter said.
The federation said a major reason for the decision was the risk of infection from putting young athletes in close proximity to each other as they travel long distances from all over the country and board together in groups for more than two weeks.
This year's spring tournament, scheduled for March, was canceled for the first time due to fears about the spread of the coronavirus. While the summer edition has been canceled twice in the past and was not held for four years during the war, both tournaments have never been canceled in the same year.
The Japan High School Baseball Federation had been looking at holding the event behind closed doors to reduce the risk of infection, but as many schools are either closed or holding classes online with club activities suspended, it became a challenge for all schools to compete in the regional championships at which teams would qualify.
The summer tournament features 49 schools, while 32 take part in the spring invitational.
Katsuhiro Miyamoto, a Kansai University economist, studied the economic impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on sports and said Tuesday that the absence of high school baseball this year will result in an estimated ¥67 billion ($620 million) hit.
The regionals for the 102nd edition of the summer tournament were scheduled to start in Okinawa on June 20, but were later pushed to July.
Normally, 49 regional champions advance to the finals at Koshien Stadium.
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