Photo/IllutrationThe Hanwha Eagles hold a training camp in Yaese, Okinawa Prefecture, in 2018. (Provided by the Dong-A Ilbo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

South Korean professional baseball teams are canceling their autumn training camps in Japan, drawing grievances from Japanese hosts and organizers that the Tokyo-Seoul diplomatic feud has spread to the world of sports.

The Hanwha Eagles, Doosan Bears and KT Wiz planned to hold their training camps in the Miyazaki Prefecture cities of Miyazaki, Saito and Hyuga, respectively, in October and November. But all three teams told the cities by early September that they have scrapped those plans.

The clubs have held autumn camps in Miyazaki Prefecture for the past several years. The Doosan Bears, in fact, have held off-season training in the Kyushu prefecture since 2006.

“It’s too bad that they canceled the camps, but we would like to continue to welcome more baseball clubs,” Miyazaki Governor Shunji Kono said.

Three other South Korean professional teams planned to visit Okinawa Prefecture for their autumn camps, but those trips have been scrapped or are now in doubt.

The Kia Tigers were scheduled to stay in Kin for a month starting in November. The team’s cancellation of the visit was reported about two weeks ago.

The Samsung Lions reported to would-be host Onna on Sept. 3 that it would hold its training camp in South Korea instead.

The Lotte Giants planned to hold their monthlong training camp from late October in Kadena. The team has told a private organization in Japan with which it has friendly relations that the plan will be canceled or scaled down.

Kenei Nakandakari, director-general of the organization, said concerns are rising about the safety of visiting players as the feud between Japan and South Korea over trade, security and history shows no signs of easing.

“We can’t take responsibility if some troubles occur outside the baseball grounds,” Nakandakari said. “So there is no choice.”

The LG Twins have held their autumn training camp in Kochi Prefecture for six straight years. That streak will end this year.

According to the Kochi Visitors & Convention Association, South Korean media reported on Aug. 7 that the Twins were considering canceling the Kochi camp because of the worsening relations between the two countries.

The association contacted the club for confirmation and was initially told that the training camp would be held as planned in November.

But the team reported to the association on Aug. 14 that the camp was canceled. It said the company that owns the ballclub had also canceled its basketball team’s training camp in the Kanto region.

“It’s so disappointing,” Masaya Yamanaka, a sports promotion manager, said. “I hope that the club will come back here from next year.”

(This article was written by Ryo Oyama, Sei Ito and Hideaki Kato.)