East Asia Japan

COVID-19 Once Again Haunts Nagoya, Forces Sanfrecce Match to be Suspended

Krishna Sadhana

Football Tribe SEA Editor


J.League 1 side Nagoya Grampus were once again gripped with fears of a COVID-19 cluster within their premises after three club members were diagnosed with the disease. Defender Kazuya Miyahara, who went down with a fever on Friday morning, underwent a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on that day and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday evening. This prompted Nagoya to send around 60 people, players and staff alike, to undergo PCR testing on Saturday. Around 58 people came out negative, however midfielder Shuto Watanabe and an unnamed team staff came out positive, which the club announced on Sunday morning. Unlike Miyahara, Watanabe and the staffer were asymptomatic.

Nagoya were scheduled to play Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the Hiroshima Big Arch on Sunday’s J1 Matchweek 7 action, however due to officials being unable to trace and verify anyone who had made contact with Miyahara, Watanabe, and the staffer before Sunday evening, the match will be postponed until further notice. The J.League have announced that they will find an alternative date for the match as soon as possible.

“It’s difficult for a club to name 14 players without knowing if there were close contacts, so they held discussions with the league,” said J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai in a hastily-arranged press conference on Sunday morning, “And without knowing that situation it’ll be too risky for a club to name a squad. With that in mind, we’ve postponed today’s match.”

According to statements made by Nagoya, neither Miyahara, Watanabe, or the staffer had made any travel outside of training, matchday activities, and essential shopping. The trio are now undergoing self-isolation at their homes.

Miyahara and Watanabe were the third and fourth Nagoya player to be infected with COVID-19 and the first two J.League players to be diagnosed with the disease after the league’s restart. Previously both Mu Kanazaki and Mitchell Langerak were diagnosed with COVID-19 on June but they have since recovered and participated in Nagoya’s matches after the restart. The Aichi Prefecture-based team were one of the only two J1 teams that have yet to taste defeat in the 2020 season so far and they found themselves second on the J1 table, two points behind fellow invincible side Kawasaki Frontale.

Around 16 Nagoya players and one team staffer made the journey to Hiroshima via either shinkansen or charter bus on Saturday, with all 17 of them having came out negative in their PCR tests. With their clash against Hiroshima being postponed until further notice, it is likely that this Nagoya contingent will make their way back to Aichi Prefecture soon.

Following Kanazaki and Langerak’s diagnosis, Nagoya have taken the necessary steps in ensuring the safety of their players and staff from the ongoing pandemic, such as regular disinfection of training facilities.