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Military football season on Okinawa put on hold

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 18, 2020

Due to worries about coronavirus, regular-season play in the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League has been suspended until further notice, according to league commissioner Columbus Wilson Jr.

The season was at the halfway point, with two-time defending league champion Hansen at 3-0, followed by second-place Foster (2-1), Kinser (1-2) and Ryukyu University (0-3), when play was called off.

The decision was made, Wilson said, due to coronavirus concerns and the health and safety of players, families and spectators, “plus all the base policies say no mass gatherings.”

The regular season began in mid-February and is scheduled to run through the first weekend of April, followed by two weeks of playoffs. The league’s championship Torii Bowl game is scheduled for April 26.

Asked when play might resume, Wilson said: “I’m going to play it by ear and keep up with base policies.”

The USFJ-AFL has operated since the 2000 season. Only twice has play been interrupted for significant periods: following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and again two years later as Operation Iraqi Freedom was ramping up. The Torii Bowl was canceled each of those seasons.