The Japan Basketball Association announced Monday that it would host the annual All-Japan High School Tournament in December.

The event, which started in 1971 and is widely known as the Winter Cup, is considered the high school basketball equivalent of baseball’s Koshien tournament.

A total of 60 teams, in both the girls and boys categories, will vie for the title from Dec. 23 to 29.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium and Musashino Forest Sport Plaza will serve as the venues for the tournament, with the former as the main site.

The other two major tournaments, the Inter-High School Championship and the National Sports Festival, were both canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virus didn’t just impact high school sports, with the majority of school-level events having been called off this year.

“It’s our responsibility as a federation to make an effort to create something for elementary, junior high and high school players to aim for,” JBA president Yuko Mitsuya said in a news conference on Monday. “But we’ve been hurting because of the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions and haven’t been able to offer them a place to play.

“However, we’re determined to proceed with the Winter Cup, which will start Dec. 23.”

The JBA will establish its own COVID-19 guidelines for the tournament at a later date. One thing that’s been decided already is that only family members, school officials and players who were left off the roster of the participating teams will be allowed to attend games during the first four days of the tournament. A limited number of general spectators will be admitted on the final three days.

The JBA doesn’t plan to administer PCR tests to the players.

Most prefectures are currently hosting their regional qualifiers for the Winter Cup. The winner from each prefecture will advance to the tournament and wild-card teams will also be included in the field, which will be revealed Nov. 26.

Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura will serve as the tournament’s special ambassador for the second consecutive year.

“The world has become completely different since last year’s tournament,” Hachimura said in a statement. “I believe the players are competing hard given the difficult circumstances at the Winter Cup qualifiers now. I know basketball players across the country are having tough times, but I’m hoping they will give their best and enjoy playing basketball.”

Hachimura led Sendai’s Meisei High School to three-straight Winter Cup championships from 2013.

Fukuoka Daiichi repeated as the boys’ champion last year while Oka Gakuen captured the girls’ title.

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