Japan Postpones Its Baseball Season Even Further

NPB season suspended
Stadium staff wearing protective masks walk past empty seats in the spectator stands during a Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) pre-season baseball game between the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and the Yomiuri Giants, closed to spectators due to the coronavirus, at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, March 15, 2020. The growing disruptions at the highest level of global sports cast growing doubt that the 2020 Summer Olympics, scheduled to begin July 24 in Tokyo, can continue as planned. Photographer: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Japan Postpones Its Baseball Season Even Further

Among the multitude of sporting events and seasons being postponed, the NPB season, also known as Japan’s major league, has delayed their season even further.

Officially announced by Japanese baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito, the Nippon Professional Baseball season, which was set to begin March 20, has been bumped back to April 24. That has come about due to the ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. This decision comes after initial postponements have already taken place.

“Unfortunately things are getting worse now,” said Saito. “We’ll have a meeting with all 12 teams, but it appears like we’ll have to be prepared for an extension.”

The commissioner also went on to say that playing games in empty stadiums is not out of the question. Both the Central and Pacific Leagues played most of their exhibition games behind closed doors.

The baseball season in Japan initially moved to postpone its season on March 9 — shortly after there were various reports that the COVID-19 situation was coming under control. That’s when things changed, and as of late, cases have spiked. The NPB itself has already witnessed three of their players test positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The Latest

As of earlier this week, there were more than 2,300 reported cases across Japan, along with roughly 57 deaths. That came from recent reports by Johns Hopkins University. There are reports that NPB is open to its regular season beginning in late May, although they have not announced a date.

This latest postponement is not expected to be the last postponement. There is a growing possibility that a full 143 game schedule will not take place. NPB executives, along with Japan’s pro soccer league, will be holding their fifth COVID-19 countermeasure liaison meeting.

Things are rapidly changing around the COVID-19 virus, but as of now, those interested in Japanese baseball will have to wait.

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