Japan’s Nikkan Sports reported Sunday citing a source in reporting Nippon Professional Baseball is taking the logical precaution of making plans for a delayed start to the regular season.
Despite the yet uncontrolled spread of the new coronavirus in Japan and around the world, NPB’s regular season is still scheduled to go ahead as originally planned before full crowds on March 20 — a week earlier than normal to allow for a Tokyo Olympic break. NPB’s Plan B, according to the report, would see the season start at the end of April.
All of NPB’s preseason games since Feb. 29, however, have been played behind closed doors. On Monday, NPB is to meet with Japan’s pro soccer establishment, the J-League, for a second time, when they will hear expert opinions.
The J-League was the first major sports body in Japan to act, suspending all play between Feb. 25 and March 15, but is also planning an alternative restart to the season in April.
The prime minister last month asked for all elementary, junior high and high schools to close through the end of spring vacation in early April, the start of Japan’s new school year. A number of companies have introduced “telework” from home by employees. Advertising giant Dentsu ordered such a move when someone in its Tokyo main office was diagnosed as having the pneumonia-causing virus.
The Dentsu headquarters building in Tokyo’s Shiodome-Shimbashi business district has forced eateries that served Dentsu staff to shorten hours or temporarily shut their doors.
On Sunday, the Japan Sumo Association will hold a tournament behind closed doors for the first time in history, when the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka begins its 15-day run in Osaka.
The first of Japan’s two major high school baseball tournaments, the national invitational is scheduled to start on March 19 at historic Koshien Stadium outside Osaka, but the National High School Federation has put off a decision whether to cancel or hold the event behind closed doors.
Perhaps the biggest focus in Japan right now is the fate of the 2020 Olympics, slated to open on July 24 in Tokyo. Organizers have been scrambling to downsize pre-Olympic events, but the government and the organizing committee have rejected any talk that a change to the main event is being considered, which is probably the most transparent lie in the history of transparent lies.