Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, J-League Extend Delays Because of COVID-19

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2020

Atsushi Saito, commissioner of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, speaks during a press conference to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus in Tokyo on March 2, 2020. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)
PHILIP FONG/Getty Images

The start of Nippon Professional Baseball's 2020 season and J-League soccer will remain postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Per Jim Armstrong of the Associated Press, Japanese baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito said Friday both leagues would have to extend their delays after meeting with a joint coronavirus task force established by NPB and J-League. 

"Unfortunately things are getting worse now," Saito said. "We'll have a meeting with all 12 teams, but it appears like we'll have to be prepared for an extension [to our postponement]."

Per Kaz Nagatsuka of the Japan Times, Saito previously announced on March 9 that the start of the season would have to be delayed. Opening Day was originally scheduled for March 20, but he said they "would like to open the season by at least the end of April."

The J-League season was originally postponed on Feb. 25 with the hope of resuming on March 18. 

During Friday's announcement, J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai said it would be "unrealistic" to hold games as scheduled on the planned restart date of May 9 for the first division. 

The J-League's first division only played one game before the season was suspended. The season runs 34 weeks and was originally scheduled to end in December.

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Armstrong reported on March 27 that three members of the Hanshin Tigers tested positive for coronavirus.

Per CNN.com, there have been 2,617 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan.