November 5 – The Levain Cup Final in Japan has been postponed following a Covid-19 outbreak among Kashiwa Reysol’s players and team staff.
On Saturday, Reysol and FC Tokyo had been due scheduled to play the Levain Cup Final, the traditional blue riband event of the Japanese domestic season, at Tokyo’s National Stadium in front of a sell-out crowd of 24,000 socially-distanced fans.
Earlier this week, Reysol reported three infections at the club, including manager Nelsinho Baptista and one player. It moved the club to test 82 players and officials. Eight members of staff tested positive as well as two players, raising the total number of coronavirus infections at the club to 13. Coach Nelsinho, 70, is under observation at a local hospital.
“While more than 10 people have been infected, we still don’t know the route of infection,” J. League chairman Mitsuru Murai said. “In order to protect the safety of the players we made the decision to postpone the match. We know that a lot of fans were looking forward to this match. … We’ll continue to work with the clubs in order to determine a new date.”
Reysol has become the second J League club to be badly affected by Covid-19 following Sagan Tosu, which had six players and several staff members test positive in August.
Rescheduling the final will leave organisers with a headache. Tokyo are due to depart for Doha to participate in the Asian Champions League and the J League is also not completed. The Emperor’s Cup semi-finals and final will be stated at the end of the year.
“We have to look at (rescheduling) from several angles. Reysol will need to isolate a lot of people and they won’t be able to play during that time,” said Murai. “The odds of holding the match in (2021) are not zero.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1606267929labto1606267929ofdlr1606267929owedi1606267929sni@o1606267929fni1606267929