The start of Japan's Top League for the 2021 season has been delayed following an outbreak of Covid-19.
The upcoming season which includes a number of high profile players including All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read was due to start on Saturday with five games scheduled for the weekend.
However, the officials have put the start of the tournament on hold after the pre-season screening returned 44 positive cases for Covid-19 that includes 24 from Canon Eagles, 13 from Toyota Verblitz, and seven from Suntory Sungoliath.
As a result, Suntory-Toyota match along with Canon-Ricoh Black Rams match has been cancelled which also has created concerns surrounding the Tokyo Olympics which is due to kick-start in the country in July.
“It’s really sad that we have to postpone the Top League just days before the opener,” Japan Rugby Football Union chairman Kensuke Iwabuchi told an online news conference.
“It’s disappointing for the players and teams as well, because we’ve all been working hard to start the season on this date. But everything has changed in the last few days.
“We need to identify who have come into close contact with those infected and decide how long they should be kept away from the group. There are various factors that we need to consider in rescheduling the season.”