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Japanese pro league to begin play June 19, without fans

Nippon Pro BaseballNippon Professional Baseball will launch its delayed 2020 season on June 19, as Japan continues to open portions of the country after cases of the coronavirus pandemic decline.

Japan had begun easing shutdown rules in recent weeks after a decline in cases. Based on the most recent changes announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in emergency shutdown rules in Tokyo and the northern island of Hokkaido, league officials and team owners decided yesterday to announce a June 19 launch date, with play beginning without fans. From AP:

“I hope we can provide some guidance for sports other than professional baseball,” Saito said. “It is important to operate cautiously according to our guidelines.”…

“It is with great joy that we have been able to decide on opening the season. 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,” Saito added.

The season will launch with no fans in the stands, much as it did for Korean and Taiwan pro baseball leagues.

Teams will begin workouts on June 2.

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