Sports | March 2, 2020 11:48 am

Japanese Baseball Season in Doubt Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Preseason Nippon Professional Baseball Organization games are being played in empty stadiums

Japanese Baseball Season In Doubt Due to Coronavirus Concerns
Atsushi Saito, commissioner of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization. (PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty)
AFP via Getty Images

With the status of the 2020 summer Olympic Games already up in the air thanks to concerns about the coronavirus, Japan is now also facing the possibility of canceling its upcoming baseball season thanks to the growing epidemic.

Representatives from the Nippon Professional Baseball league met with medical experts on Monday to discuss whether the regular season can begin as scheduled on March 20. As of now, Nippon’s preseason games are being played in empty stadiums in order to ensure the health and safety of players and coaches as well as fans.

With no end in sight for the virus outbreak, it is a real possibility the regular season could open as scheduled but fans will not be allowed to come to the ballpark. That was the tact organizers of a spectator-less marathon took with their race in Tokyo over the weekend. On Sunday, Japan’s sumo association also decided to hold its spring grand tournament without spectators.

A decision about what will happen in the 12-team baseball league is expected to be reached by the middle of this month.

“That is the difficult part,” said baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito. “At this point, we still can’t say what action we will take under what conditions.”

Professional soccer and rugby in Japan have also been affected by the virus, though the Tokyo Olympics are still expected to take place as scheduled starting on July 24. However, Olympic Committee officials have suggested even that could change.

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