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Nippon Professional Baseball Delays Season Start Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Nippon Pro BaseballThe 12-team Nippon Professional Baseball leagues are delaying the start of the 2020 season from March 20 to April due to concerns with the possible spread of the coronavirus.

The teams are currently in training and playing games with no spectators present. The decision comes after league officials were advised by a panel of infectious disease experts to delay the season. From NHK:

The representatives of the baseball clubs will meet again on Thursday to discuss the date of the opening.

The start of the season was last delayed in 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, followed by the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima.

Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Atsushi Saito said their aim is to hold all 143 games in front of spectators. He said the situation about the new coronavirus changes every day, and that he hopes the season will open next month.

In the United States MLB is recommending players not sign autographs with fan-provided items and not shake hands with fans, as the sport implements measures designed to lessen the potential impact of the coronavirus in spring training. You can expect similar measures to be implemented when the regular season starts at the end of the month: despite some optimism from President Donald Trump, the spread of the virus is unlikely to be abated in such a short amount of time. In fact, MLB has already begun reevaluating its London series in the face of the spread of the coronavirus.

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