Substitute event needed after virus halts Japan national HS baseball meet
The National High School Baseball Championship, which was scheduled to start in August at Hanshin Koshien Stadium in western Japan, has been called off due to fears over the novel coronavirus. The cancellation follows that of the spring National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament at the same stadium, also over virus fears. To say the least, it is regrettable that these annual traditional events at the dream stadium for high school baseballers have had to succumb to the pandemic.
Regional preliminaries for the summer Koshien tournament to choose teams representing each prefecture in Japan will also be cancelled. Amid the prolonged school closures, many high school baseball teams have been unable to practice, with the resumption of regular classes nowhere in sight.
Amid these circumstances, it had become difficult to hold regional preliminaries, most of which are normally held in July, with no clear prospects of the virus scare coming to an end anytime soon.
Even if the summer baseball tourney were to be held, it would have been difficult to completely rule out virus transmission risks among players and others concerned, as their attendance at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, requires long-distance travel in groups and stays at hotels and other accommodation facilities. Even though the players are young, if they are infected with the virus and develop severe conditions, it could put their lives at risk. The organizers of the event apparently made the heart-wrenching decision by prioritizing the young players' health.
That said, we cannot bear to see third-year students finishing their high school baseball club activities the way things stand. As a matter of course, it is a given that the players' safety must be ensured amid fears of a resurgence in viral infections. With that in mind, isn't there a way to offer some kind of "final stage" for players graduating next spring to display the results of their daily practice?
There are reportedly growing calls among regional high school baseball federations to hold district preliminaries on their own. It would be possible to hold those events during the summer break or other relevant period.
The Japan High School Baseball Federation has also canceled the national high school softball baseball tournament. Regional officials related to the federation are urged to do their utmost to reward players' diligent efforts.
Apart from the baseball events, the Interscholastic Athletic Meet and the national athletic competitions for junior high school students have also been called off due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is not hard to imagine the disappointment among players at the series of cancellations of national meets, which junior high and high school students make their goals to cap their years of extracurricular activities.
The All Japan High School Athletic Federation has also called on regional federations in each prefecture to provide some sort of relief to students, such as holding regional meets for third-year students to take part. Sports associations in regional areas are encouraged to comply with those requests and organize substitute events.
Fears over the coronavirus have not only spoiled sporting events, but also forced an array of cultural events to be called off, including national contests for school brass bands and choirs. Officials involved are urged to exercise consideration for affected students, such as providing them with some platforms to present the results of their activities.
The experience of having dedicated oneself to a shared activity with peers in their youth will become a valuable asset for these children. Adults need to exercise wisdom to create opportunities for students to appreciate the splendor of their club activities. May 21, 2020 (Mainichi Japan)