International badminton tournament in Japan called off due to Coronavirus pandemic
Yonex Osaka International Challenge for young players is the latest sporting event to be hit by the Coronavirus travel restrictions.
The Yonex Osaka International Challenge, which was scheduled to take place from March 31 to April 4, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restriction.
The international badminton competition due to take place this spring six months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in Japan has been cancelled, organisers said Saturday.
The challenge for young players is the latest sporting event to be hit by the Coronavirus travel restrictions.
The Yonex Osaka International Challenge was called off "because it is difficult to host foreign players" under current immigration rules, the Nippon Badminton Association said.
"We are worried about whether competitions scheduled for March onwards -- which will be used as part of the selection process for Olympic athletes -- will be held as scheduled," he was quoted as saying in reports on condition of anonymity.
There's been a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Japan. Tokyo and the western city of Osaka are under a state of emergency to tackle the spike. The borders have been closed to almost all foreigners with no exception for athletes, according to reports.
The first Tokyo Olympics test event of 2021, an artistic swimming competition scheduled for March, was postponed on Thursday for two months. It was also announced that the Japanese team had withdrawn from a women's four-nation football tournament in Florida in February because of the surge in Covid-19 infections in Japan.
The Tokyo Olympics was set to take place in 2020. It was postponed due to the virus and is set to start on July 23.
Despite growing concern over the event's feasibility, organisers and the IOC are positive that it can be held safely.
On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed that the Olympics would be held this summer “as a symbol of global unity” to "bring hope and courage to the world".
The state of emergency will remain in place in affected areas until at least February 7, according to reports.