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Keiya Carlson, left, and Yokota’s home game against Christian Academy Japan on Friday was postponed; Jaylie Johnson and Robert D. Edgren’s home game against a Japanese team Saturday was canceled.
Keiya Carlson, left, and Yokota’s home game against Christian Academy Japan on Friday was postponed; Jaylie Johnson and Robert D. Edgren’s home game against a Japanese team Saturday was canceled. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

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Mats will remain rolled up and balls will stay on the racks this weekend at high school gyms in Korea, DODEA-Korea officials said.

“Competitions for this weekend will be canceled, and we will look first to try to reschedule, based on conditions,” DODEA-Korea district superintendent Jeff Arrington said. “I wish I had a more permanent answer, but do not right now,” he said.

A wrestling tri-meet was scheduled at Daegu, three varsity boys basketball games were set for Osan and four varsity girls basketball games at Humphreys.

There were several reasons for the postponements, Arrington said.

Aside from U.S. Forces Korea implementing Health Protection Condition Bravo, some coaches haven’t returned from holidays in the States. Others are in quarantine. Some coaches and students are awaiting coronavirus test results. And parents are concerned about allowing their children to travel under current COVID conditions.

“Those are all factors that could cause a coach or an athlete not to be available, as well as being ill for non-COVID reasons, family commitments, etc.,” Arrington said. “All of these are possible contributing factors.”

They will try again in Korea next week.

“Cancellation of the season is not being discussed at this time,” Arrington said.

It’s not just in Korea where games have been shelved for the first full week of January. U.S. Forces Japan is back in HPCON-Bravo.

  • A wrestling dual meet Wednesday and a girls basketball game on Friday pitting Kadena against Kubasaki were also postponed. Referees were not available for wrestling, while a handful of girls basketball players were awaiting coronavirus test results, school officials said. Boys basketball featuring Kubasaki at Kadena went ahead Friday as scheduled. Kadena athletics director Jason Stevens said the schools are looking at rescheduling the wrestling meet, depending on referees’ availability.

  • Basketball games and a wrestling event featuring Japanese teams at Robert D. Edgren were canceled. DODEA-Japan community superintendent Ronald Knight cited scheduling problems for basketball and COVID issues for wrestling.

  • Also in Japan, scheduled games at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni pitting Fukuoka International at Matthew C. Perry on Saturday were postponed, Knight said. It’s not known if they’ll be rescheduled. Perry athletics director George Williams said the Samurai are still scheduled to host Yokota, Zama and E.J. King next weekend.

  • Christian Academy Japan’s boys and girls basketball teams were scheduled to play at Yokota on Friday; those games were postponed out of an “abundance of caution,” Panthers boys coach Dan Galvin said. Yokota athletics director Tim Pujol said he’s working on rescheduling the games.

Coaches and ADs in Japan expressed hope that play can continue and they won’t revert to a situation like last winter, when the pandemic didn’t allow competition at all.

“Hopefully, this is just an anomalous precaution and not an omen for the rest of the winter season,” Yokota girls coach Byron Wrenn said.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He served 10½ years in the Air Force, the last 4½ assigned to Stripes in Tokyo, and was then hired by Stripes on Oct. 25, 1985. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages Pacific Storm Tracker.
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