Super typhoon threatens Japanese GP, Rugby World Cup


A super typhoon threatens to disrupt the Japanese Grand Prix and a series of key Rugby World Cup games in Japan this weekend.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) projects Typhoon Hagibis could be “the strongest to hit Japan this year”, with high winds and heavy rain set to reach southern Japan on Saturday.

The Japanese Grand Prix is scheduled to take place at the Suzuka circuit, south-west of Osaka, meaning both qualifying and the race itself could be impacted. In the 2014 race at the same circuit, Jules Bianchi crashed in heavy rain from Typhoon Panphone and died from his injuries the following year.

Hagibis is forecast to hit the southern island of Kyushu on Saturday, where two Rugby World Cup games are to be held this weekend — Ireland’s crucial match against Samoa at Fukuoka on Saturday and Wales’ game against Uruguay in Kumamoto on Sunday.

Although the worst disruption is expected to be in the south west, the JMA has warned the entire south coast could be impacted. Yokohama hosts two games with a big impact on the quarter-finals — England’s game against France on Saturday is followed by hosts Japan’s showdown with Scotland on Sunday.

Under World Rugby’s tournament rules, if any matches are abandoned due to the weather then the game is declared a draw and both teams are awarded two points, which could have major implications on who progresses to the knock-out stages.

The threat of extreme weather has been a theme of the Rugby World Cup so far. The England team was stranded at Narita International Airport for over five hours on arrival in Japan due to Typhoon Faxai.

Organisers also warned of disruption from Tropical Storm Tapah over the opening weekend, while there were contingency plans in place to relocate France’s game with the U.S. last week if it was affected by Typhoon Mitag. Mitag eventually passed by Japan.

The Japanese Grand Prix has been impacted by extreme weather on a number of occasions in the past. While 2014 featured the Bianchi accident, in 2010 qualifying had to be held on Sunday morning due to a washout on Saturday. Motor racing’s governing body, the FIA, is monitoring the situation.

ESPN has reached out to both the FIA and World Rugby for further clarification and detail of contingency plans.

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