Japan is all set to reopen the gates for the baseball season this the 19th of June, but the galleries will continue to remain empty.
Atsushi Saito, Nippon’s Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioner said in a statement on Monday’s online meeting that a tentative attempt to resume life and especially sports back to normalcy might be attempted through this initiative.
“I hope we can provide some guidance for sports other than professional baseball,” Saito said after an online meeting with representatives from the league, per the Associated Press.
“It is important to operate cautiously according to our guidelines.”
The league’s 12 teams will be able to begin practice games on the 2nd of June. The season will be abbreviated to 120 games, from the original 143 regular-season games on the schedule. This year’s NPB All-Star Game, as well as interleague games, have been canceled.
The Japan Baseball league was previously scheduled to begin on the 20th of March. However, it went on a hiatus given the current scenario of the pandemic outbreak across the world, including Japan.
Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, recently lifted the country’s status quo of an immediate emergency, which was brought into place after the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
Given the recent developments of the virus in Japan, the government has decided to lift the lockdown protocols, all the while continuing social distancing measures. Tokyo, the northern island of Hokkaido and various regions of Japan, are now restoring life back to its pace pre-COVID-19.
The Olympics, which was scheduled this year in Japan, is now completely canceled while other possible dates are still being considered.
“It is with great joy that we have been able to decide on opening the season,” Saito said. “But we believe it is from now that we must make thorough preparations without fail, and it remains crucial our efforts move forward cautiously while protecting our players, other people involved, and their families.”
Japan is following in the footsteps of South Korea (Korea Baseball Organization) and Taiwan (Chinese Professional Baseball League), were two other professional baseball leagues have started their 2020 seasons.
MLB is still on an indefinite hiatus of its 2020 season. MLB and the Players Association are currently talking about returning to play, and the league is reportedly set to make another proposal to the players union on Tuesday.