June 23, 2020
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's professional baseball and soccer leagues will allow spectators to attend games from July 10, Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Atsushi Saito and J-League Chairman Mitsuru Murai said Monday.
The 2020 NPB season started behind closed doors on Friday after a nearly three-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The J-League first division is scheduled to resume its postponed season on July 4.
"We have to take the situation into consideration, but I got word from the government that it is OK to announce we can start admitting spectators from July 10," Saito said following the 10th liaison meeting of the governing bodies to discuss coronavirus countermeasures.
The government's current guidelines allow for the gradual increase in the number of spectators at sports events from July 10, starting with a maximum of 5,000 people or 50 percent of the venue's capacity, whichever is smaller.
"We'll have to consult with local governments, but it's possible there might be small variations," Saito said regarding the cap on spectators.
In addition, NPB will conduct coronavirus testing once a month for all players, managers, coaches and umpires. It is also looking into the possibility of batch testing to cut costs.
A panel of infectious disease experts also advised the two leagues to tell fans they should consider changing the way they cheer in an effort to reduce the risk of infection.
Both leagues have introduced countermeasures to prevent the spread of the pneumonia-causing virus as there remain lingering concerns of a spike in infections across Japan after the country's state of emergency was fully lifted last month.
It was added that the policy to allow spectators would be reconsidered if the coronavirus situation worsens.
（Photo: Boards with fans' faces are seen in the stands at Yokohama Stadium on June 19, 2020. ）