Playing it safe in japan

Is it still baseball without spitting and scratching?

We’re about to find out in Japan, where for the time being, spitting is among the banned activities when pro baseball returns on Friday, nearly three months after the originally scheduled Opening Day.

Essentially, every player and every member of the team staff who comes into contact with players will receive a PCR test prior to Opening Day and be retested once a month.

Here is a quick outline of the coronavirus guidelines published by Nippon Professional Baseball on Wednesday:

For players

  • Temperatures to be taken before leaving for the ballpark. All players and team staff should keep a record of where they go and who they come into contact with.
  • Wear masks as much as possible except when on the field and in the dugout.
  • Be particularly careful about social distancing in designated smoking areas, and limit the number of people there.
  • Refrain from high fives or shaking hands
  • Do not spit
  • Do not lick your hand during the game
  • Practice social distancing as much as possible in the dugout.
  • Do not shout or take part in huddles before the game or the start of a team’s at-bat. You are permitted to raise your voice during the course of play.
  • Avoid contact during mound meetings.

For others

  • Home plate umpires will wear surgical masks during the game, and umpires will avoid contact with players
  • Official scorers will wear masks and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from each other and up to 2 meters if possible.
  • The media will not be allowed on the field or in the dugouts (Japanese media are never allowed clubhouse access).
  • Members of the media will wear mask and social distance, while remaining at least 2 meters from players when speaking to them in reporting areas. Teams will provide online reporting access.


Those testing positive will submit their tracing reports to their teams, who will report them to NPB so that members of other teams deemed to have had close contact with them can be tested.

There are different quarantine protocols depending on whether the person in question is symptomatic or not, or if a family member tests positive or people come into close contact with others testing positive or if either they or someone living with them feels ill.

Import players coming from overseas must undergo an interview at the airport and self-quarantine for 14 days. Players families entering the country must self-quarantine for 14 days. Players who come into contact with their families during that 14-day period must report to the commissioner’s office and self-quarantine for 14 days.

NOTE: Since non-citizens have been banned from entering Japan, even permanent residents, this last note is kind of hollow at the moment.

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