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Sport

Japan to drop out of eight-team international rugby tournament - Kyodo

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool A - Japan v Scotland - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - October 13, 2019 Japan's Kenki Fukuoka and team mates celebrate at the end of the match REUTERS/Matthew Childs

(Reuters) - Japan are set to withdraw from November’s eight-team tournament featuring the Six Nations sides and Fiji as they struggle with logistical complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Kyodo news agency.

The tournament, which takes the place of this year’s autumn internationals, is scheduled to begin on Nov. 14, two weeks after the completion of the Six Nations Championship which was suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak in March.

Japan has among the strictest restrictions in place to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Kyodo said the ban on foreign-passport holders has prevented members of Japan’s coaching staff, which includes New Zealanders Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown, from entering the country, making it difficult to organise training camps.

“It’s not a situation we can explain right now,” the Japan Rugby Football Union said. “We can’t say we’ve made a decision yet.

“JRFU will explain officially our decision and reasons for that as soon as it is ready to disclose.”

Japan have not played a test since their quarter-final defeat by South Africa in the World Cup last year, with scheduled tests against England, Scotland and Ireland cancelled due to the pandemic.

Fiji’s involvement is also at risk, while British media reported that Georgia have been invited to take the place of the 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts, who were to be grouped in a four-team pool alongside Scotland, France and Italy.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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