The Japan Football Association on Tuesday announced the cancellation of Thursday's international friendly between the Samurai Blue and Jamaica after half of the Caribbean nation's players were unable to travel to Japan.
According to JFA President Kozo Tashima, eight of Jamaica's 10 Europe-based players were prevented from boarding their scheduled Sunday flight at Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport after their negative test certificates were rejected by their airline. Two players whose tests were approved stayed with their teammates.
"We decided it would not be appropriate to hold the Kirin Challenge Cup with one team only having 10 players," Tashima told a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Jamaica's Gleaner newspaper reported that several players had been tested using swabs on their mouths and nostrils. Japan requires inbound passengers to submit results from tests conducted using nasal swabs or saliva.
A second group of 10 players and team staffers departing from the United States were able to fly to Japan after all took PCR tests at the same location under guidelines issued by the JFA. Tashima was unable to confirm whether or not the Jamaica Football Federation had followed the JFA's guidelines with its Europe-based players.
Under regulations established between the JFA and the Japanese government, players participating in international fixtures been allowed to forgo the two-week quarantine period required for most arrivals in Japan — so long as they test negative for COVID-19 before their flights as well as on each of the three days after they land, including the day of their first match.
Jamaica's players would have had to land in Japan by Monday night in order to be tested on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tashima said the JFA had considered arranging a charter flight before deciding to call off the match, saying the association wanted to respect the government's regulations.
"We will work to ensure this doesn't happen again," Tashima said.
The JFA has enacted strict protocols even within the Japan squad, with the team's Europe-based contingent segregated from local players off the pitch.
Shortly after its initial announcement, the JFA said that Hajime Moriyasu's Samurai Blue would instead face Japan's under-24 men's team — which Moriyasu will coach at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — on Thursday in Sapporo.
The Reggae Boyz, whose last visit to Japan ended in a narrow 1-0 defeat in Niigata on Oct. 10, 2014, are also scheduled to face Japan U-24 in a friendly on June 12 at Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture. Tashima said that Jamaica's Europe-based players would return to London and be tested again in order to board another flight to Japan and participate in that match.
Hajime Moriyasu's Samurai Blue are still scheduled to play a June 11 friendly against Serbia in Kobe as well as World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — on June 7 and 15, respectively — in Suita, Osaka Prefecture.
All games involving the Samurai Blue and Japan U-24 will be held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus-caused state of emergency that is currently in effect across 10 of Japan's 47 prefectures. Two friendlies involving the Nadeshiko Japan women's team, in Hiroshima and Tochigi, are currently scheduled to admit fans.
The JFA said that it would team up with virtual tip jar service Kassai for Thursday's match, with donations to be used in support of the country's medical workers.
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