Japan cancels Formula One dates as Typhoon Hagibis nears

Organizers of Japan’s Formula One Grand Prix car race have cancelled the full Saturday program as the nation prepares for Typhoon Hagibis to hit.

The final practice session will not be held and qualifying rounds scheduled for Saturday have been pushed back to Sunday. The race course, Suzuka circuit, will be closed on Saturday, with no public or media allowed in for safety reasons as the storm hits.

This means the final practice sessions for drivers will be held on Friday before the qualifying sessions begin on Sunday.

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Typhoon Hagibis has been classified as equivalent in force to a Category Five hurricane. It is possible that the storm could affect Sunday's program as well. But organizers say postponing the race until Monday is impossible.

Past tragedy has led race organizers to be overly cautious of bad weather. French race car driver Jules Bianchi died due to injuries sustained at a crash at Suzuka in 2014, when rain and poor visibility caused him to lose control during a race.

Cancellations pour in

The news follows the outright cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, Scotland versus Japan and France against England, that were also scheduled for Saturday in Japan.

Operators have also already cancelled more than 1,000 flights scheduled for Saturday as well as many train services.

Heavy rains and winds in excess of 200 kilometers (125 miles) per hour are expected.

The typhoon arrives just a month after another Typhoon Faxai swept through eastern Japan, killing one person and causing massive damage and power outages.

kp/rc (dpa, Reuters)

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