FIBA Asia announced on Friday that the third and final window of Japan’s Asia Cup qualifying group has been moved from Tokyo to Doha due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Japan Basketball Association said the decision was made in part due to the ongoing state of emergency in 11 Japanese prefectures including Tokyo.
Organizers initially announced in December that a site in the Tokyo area would host all of Group B’s remaining games from Feb. 18-22. Now the remaining contests involving Japan, China, Taiwan and Malaysia will be played in Doha along Group E’s games.
Details regarding the event in the Qatari capital are expected to be revealed at a later date, but the tournament’s official website states that the windows will be “organized as protected environment tournaments in order to ensure health and safety of all participants,” indicating the creation of a bio-secure “bubble” similar to the one used in Qatar for soccer’s Asian Champions League last year.
Japan has only completed one qualifier, a 96-57 win over Taiwan in Taipei last February. The Akatsuki Five were to play in November’s scheduled window, which was eventually called off.
While the Asia Cup finals are scheduled to be held in Jakarta in August, the pandemic’s continued impact has left the status of the tournament up in the air for now.
“Given the circumstances, we have not been given much information except for the fact that the (February) window has now been moved to Doha,” a JBA official told the Japan Times on Sunday.
“We don’t even know if there is a space in the calendar for the (Asia Cup finals) to be held (if they are postponed).”
The announcement is another blow for the Akatsuki Five’s preparations ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to open on July 23 after a year-long postponement caused by the pandemic.
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