Another major elite international swimming competition has been cancelled in the name of public health and safety, as the 2020 Japan Open is officially a no-go.
The FINA-sanctioned Olympic qualifier was originally slated for Thursday, June 4th – Sunday, June 7th at the Yokohama International Pool in Kanagawa, serving as a follow-up to April’s Japan Swim, previously cancelled.
“In view of the situation where society as a whole is working to prevent the transmission of the new coronavirus, we have decided to cancel,” reads the Japanese Swimming Federation’s (JASF) statement.
“We understand it will cause inconvenience to the swimmers, their families and all related persons who have been preparing for this tournament, but we have made this decision, given top priority to the spread and convergence of the infection. Thank you for your understanding.”
The sole Olympic Trials meet for Japanese swimmers, the Japan Swim, was already cancelled on March 25th due to increasing concerns over the COVID-19 virus, specifically in the Tokyo area.
Then, the Olympic Games themselves were officially postponed to July 23, 2021.
Last year’s Japan Swim represented Japan’s premier World Championships-qualifying meet, however, the 2019 edition of the Japan Open still saw strong performances from Japanese swimmers, including a 1:46.62 200m free from Katsuhiro Matsumoto, the man who would wind up taking silver in the event in Gwangju.
Ippei Watanabe also threw down a statement-making 2:07.87 200m breaststroke, while visiting Hungarian Kristof Milak put up the fastest 200m fly time of 1:54.71 as a warm-up to his eventual World Record in the event in Gwangju.
At the time of publishing, the nation of Japan has had 3,139 cases of COVID-19 reported, resulting in 77 deaths and 514 recoveries, per Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.