Japanese baseball fans will be barred from all 72 remaining preseason games — a drastic move the country’s professional league hopes will prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Nippon Professional Baseball league members will play the remaining games in empty stadiums, representatives of the league’s 12 teams decided at a special Wednesday meeting.
The regular season is expected to open on March 20.
“This was a bitter decision to make,” league Commissioner Atsushi Saito said, according to Japan’s Kyodo news agency. “Because we can’t determine the situation, I won’t say anything right now about opening day. If possible, we all want to go ahead on March 20.”
The move came a day after the Yomiuri Giants team said fans would be barred from two preseason games this weekend at the Tokyo Dome stadium, the Japan Times reported.
Meanwhile, the country’s top soccer league, the J-League, has halted all games until March 15.
In another Wednesday move, the Japan Boxing Commission and Japan Pro Boxing Association decided to either cancel or postpone all bouts scheduled to be held in the country next month over coronavirus fears, according to the Times.
More than 200 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Japan, excluding the 704 passengers and crew infected aboard the Diamond Princess ship, according to a Reuters tally. Seven people have died of the rapidly spreading bug in the country.
With Post wires