AFC chief offers help

Mohamed Bin Hammam

By Simon Peach, Press Association Sport

Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam has offered “all possible assistance” to Japan in the wake of the natural disaster that struck the country yesterday.

An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale rocked Japan’s north-eastern coast, causing a 13-foot tsunami which swept boats, cars, buildings and debris miles inland.

Hundreds of people have died in the disaster that has engulfed the nation, leading Bin Hammam to extend his condolences to the Japanese people.

“On behalf of AFC and its member associations, I convey my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan,” he said.

“AFC stands by Japan and will render all possible assistance immediately to the Japan Football Association, its president and the entire Japanese football family.

“This is a personal tragedy for me and I feel their pain. My thoughts are with the people of Japan in this very difficult hour.”

Bin Hammam has announced that all AFC Champions League matches involving Japanese clubs have been postponed indefinitely, adding that the AFC will make a further announcement once it has taken stock of the situation.

All nine J-League and 10 J2-League fixtures scheduled for this weekend have been postponed, while the Japan Racing Association has cancelled all meetings at least until next weekend.

Several baseball matches and rugby events have also been called off, although the International Skating Union insists it has no plans to cancel the the World Figure Skating Championships.

The event is set to start in Tokyo on March 21 at the Yoyogi National Stadium, which the ISU believes is still “suitable to host” the championships.

In a statement on http://www.isu.org, the international governing body said: “The ISU, while expressing its sympathy to the Japan entities, is confident that the local conditions will permit to regularly conduct the event.

“The ISU is planning to issue another communication in the next days.”

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