DODDS Pacific activities canceled, sports seasons in limbo
ISHIKAWA, Okinawa — DODDS Pacific officials announced Monday the cancellation of three Far East high school activities planned for this month, as well as DODDS Japan sporting events for the near future.
The events canceled are: the Linguafest, which was to be held in Seoul; the Junior ROTC Drill Competition to be held at Kadena High School on Okinawa; and the Junior Science & Humanities Symposium, which was to take place in Tsukuba, north of Tokyo.
Officials still are trying to determine how to hold a virtual science symposium — perhaps via Skype — to grade the top three finishers who qualify for the national competition, officials said.
Concern over aftershocks in the wake of Friday’s earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan, and resulting fuel shortages and rolling blackouts spurred the cancellations, according to a memo sent Monday by DODDS Pacific Director Diana Ohman. She also cited the need for air and ground transportation and billeting being used by military rescue workers.
“The priority is the mission,” DODDS Pacific Far East athletics coordinator Don Hobbs said of the Far East cancellations. “At times like this, there are things more important. … Travel in Japan is uncertain right now.”
The magnitude 9.0 temblor struck at 2:46 p.m. Friday. It and the resulting tsunami left much of Japan’s northeast coast in ruins, damaged nuclear facilities on which Japan depends much for its electricity, and temporarily paralyzed Tokyo, 250 miles southwest of the epicenter.
The future of the sports seasons will remain in limbo for now, officials said.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty at this point,” DODDS Japan district superintendent Clayton Fujie said. “We want to keep our kids safe. We don’t want to send them out into danger. Right now, staying put is the best thing.”
For certain, every sports event scheduled through Saturday has been called off. International schools in the Tokyo area have pretty much followed suit, since their spring vacation is approaching next week, according to one athletics director.
Still to be determined is the fate of the DODDS Japan soccer, baseball and softball tournaments, scheduled for March 24-26 at Zama American, Nile C. Kinnick and Yokota Air Base, respectively. Those events might be rescheduled, Fujie said.
The DODDS Pacific athletics directors’ spring meeting, slated for April 4-5 at Yokota, might be moved to Okinawa, Hobbs said.
On a happy note, the 39 remaining Robert D. Edgren High School student athletes stranded at Yokota by the earthquake finally made it home early Monday evening, DODDS Japan officials said.
The Edgren students, traveling space-available, boarded a C-130 Hercules from Yokota, departed at 6 p.m. and landed at Misawa around 7:30 p.m., according to DODDS Japan transportation officer Milt Colon.
Fujie credited Colon’s work and that of 374th Airlift Wing command Chief Master Sgt. Ben Caro for helping get the students home.
“We got them all out,” Fujie said.
Only three Edgren coaches remained at Yokota on Monday.