Nippon Professional Baseball declined to name a date to start its season on Monday after a meeting with their Japanese pro soccer counterparts and health experts but did cancel this year’s all-star series, the Daily Sports reported.
“I regret to announce that we have decided to cancel the All-Star series and the Fresh Star (minor league all-star) game,” commissioner Atsushi Saito said. “This was the 70th year of the competition. There’s no excuse we can offer to the fans who have waited so long and to those in the game.”
At the start of the press conference, Saito said, “It is difficult to determine the opening date at the present time.”
The 12 teams had been eying June 19 as a potential starting date, but could not pull the trigger.
“Even though we couldn’t decide on a date, there are around the world and in Japan, discussions going on about exit strategies. Over the next two weeks, we will carefully monitor the situation. We will make steady preparations and buildup so that we might be able to open the season in the middle of next month.
Although the number of new infections reported in Japan has declined somewhat, the health experts warned the pro sports executives that “the situation remains unpredictable.”
Japan’s season was set to start a week early this year, on March 20, and end two weeks late, to allow for a three-week Olympic break. Since that was abandoned early in March, NPB has twice announced new Opening Day dates only to see those, too, become untenable.