Coronavirus forces Giants, Swallows behind closed doors

Amid concerns over the current coronavirus outbreak, the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants announced Tuesday that their first two preseason games at Tokyo Dome this weekend on Feb. 29 and March 1, will not be open to the public.

Earlier in the day, Japan’s professional soccer establishment, the J-League decided to postpone all its league and cup games until March 15. The league season began last Friday.

On Wednesday, NPB executives will meet to decide on some action to prevent further spread of the virus. Various fan activities have already been canceled and most teams whose fans blow up jet balloons and launch them before their teams bat in the seventh inning and after home victories have asked fans to refrain from blowing up their balloons.

After the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan and triggered a nuclear meltdown north of Tokyo, the regular season was delayed. The team closest to the disaster, the Sendai-based Rakuten Eagles were unable to play home games until April 29.

That season didn’t end until the middle of November. This year’s NPB season was scheduled to start a week early, on March 20, and run longer due to a nearly one-month long break for the Tokyo Olympics.

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