Japan is bracing for a super typhoon on track to hit its central and eastern regions over the three-day weekend with potential damage from torrential rains and strong winds.
Typhoon Hagibis has already caused cancellations of two Rugby World Cup matches that were to be played on Saturday.
Organisers cancelled the England-France match planned in Yokohama, near Tokyo, and New Zealand-Italy game in Toyota, in central Japan.
Organisers also called off a marathon in Sendai and other northern coastal towns. Formula One auto racing in Suzuka in central Japan may also be affected.
Hagibis, which means “speed” in Filipino, had maximum sustained winds of up to 270 kilometres (168 miles) and stronger gusts at noon on Thursday near Chichi island in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) off Tokyo’s southern coast.
It was moving north at the speed of 20km an hour (12mph) and is expected to weaken over the cooler waters as it nears Japan’s main island.
It is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.
The Japan Meteorological Agency says the typhoon is forecast to hit ashore in the Tokyo area late on Saturday and urged people to take precautions.
Japan’s central Pacific coast may see torrential rains beginning on Friday while high waves and tides may cause flooding.
Airlines and train services anticipate cancellations affecting holidaymakers travelling over the three-day weekend that includes Sports Day holiday on Monday.
East Japan Railway Company said it may suspend services on most local lines and bullet trains around Tokyo before the typhoon arrives.
Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways said they may ground flights as early as Friday depending on the typhoon’s movement.
The approaching typhoon is spreading fear, especially in Chiba near Tokyo, which was hit by Typhoon Faxai last month and many residents are still recovering from damage to their homes.
The typhoon tore many electrical poles and snapped cables, triggering extensive outages that lasted for weeks, contributing to heat illnesses and other health problems.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, at a news conference, said the government would do the utmost for the people’s safety, and urged residents near the typhoon route to take precautions.
In some places, preparations have already started.
Local offices in Chiba city started distributing free sandbags to shield against flooding. The city also cautioned against power outages from potential typhoon damage and urged the residents to make sure they have enough food, water and their phones are charged.
In Chofu in Tokyo’s western suburbs, workers at the city hall renovation site reinforced scaffolding and placed protective nets to prevent equipment and construction materials from being blown off.
At a winery in Yamanashi, north of Tokyo, workers picked grapes on Thursday to save them from the typhoon, Japan’s NHK television said.
Japan is regularly hit by Pacific storms, including Faxai in September. Typhoon Jebi flooded a terminal and a runway at Kansai airport last year.