ISHIKAWA, Okinawa – DODDS Pacific officials said Monday that they will modify qualifying standards for next month’s Far East track and field meet at Kubasaki High School.

All teams may bring as many as 10 boys and 10 girls to the meet, scheduled for May 23-25, regardless of whether they have met a certain time or distance in an event, Far East athletics coordinator Don Hobbs said.

Each team may then add as many as five more athletes who meet or top the normal qualifying standards.

“All 15 would have to meet qualifying standards,” he said.

Originally, a maximum of 12 athletes per event could qualify if they met or exceeded the standard, a policy established after last year’s Far East meet, Hobbs said. Deadline for qualifying is May 9.

The aftereffects of the March 11 Tohoku-Kanto earthquake and tsunami “disrupted the DODDS Japan spring sports schedule,” he said.

Four DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools meets were called off. That leaves just two regular-season meets before the Kanto finals on May 14.

DODDS Korea’s track league is in its first season. While Seoul American, Osan American and Daegu American each have teams, they have no tracks on base and must find off-base venues to compete “and will most likely have difficulty getting in many meets,” Hobbs said. As of now, just two meets are scheduled.

The change is effective for 2011 only, he added. “We found this to be the most fair and equitable way to do this without changing the integrity of the sport,” he said.

Coaches for the most part agreed with the decision, with one of them calling it a “happy medium.”

“Given the situation this year, I’m OK with it, but not in any other year,” said Al Garrido, coach of defending Far East girls champion Kinnick.

Meanwhile, Osan American track coach David Hemmer announced Monday that DODDS Korea’s first meet would take place at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pyeongtaek Municipal Sports Complex.

Hemmer credited school administration and its support staff for securing the sports complex for the meet, and for paying the 30,000 won ($27) user fee.

Hobbs also announced that athletes returning to Japan under the voluntary departure program after April 29 will not be allowed to participate in Far East tournaments because of the high likelihood that they wouldn’t get in the 10 mandatory practices needed before competition.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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