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Thursday’s international friendly between the Samurai Blue and Jamaica has been canceled after half of the Caribbean nation’s players were unable to travel to Japan due to problems with their pre-flight COVID-19 tests, Dan Orlowitz reports.

Hajime Moriyasu’s team will instead face Japan’s under-24 team — which Moriyasu will coach at the Olympics — on Thursday in Sapporo. The Samurai Blue are still set 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 Osaka Prefecture.

Referee Yoshimi Yamashita oversees a J. League third-division game between YSCC and Tegevajaro Miyazaki in Yokohama last month. | JAPAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
Referee Yoshimi Yamashita (center) oversees a J. League third-division game between YSCC and Tegevajaro Miyazaki in Yokohama last month. | JAPAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION

The Reggae Boyz were also scheduled to face Japan U-24 in a friendly on June 12 at Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture — a game that, barring further complications, should still go ahead. The young Japanese team also take on the U-24 sides from Ghana on June 5, Honduras on July 12 and Spain on July 17.

After that, of course, come the Olympics. And when they do, watch out for Yoshimi Yamashita, who recently made history as the first woman to officiate a J. League game. She’ll be one of Japan’s referees at the Tokyo Games.

“I wouldn’t say officiating is ‘fun’ but there’s a lot that makes it worth doing,” she tells Orlowitz. Hey, who really loves their job anyway?

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