NPB publishes coronavirus guidelines ahead of Opening Day
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese baseball will open its season on Friday with no fans, no spitting, no high-fives and little interaction with the media, according to guidelines published Wednesday.
In a season delayed by nearly three months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the guidelines specify how long those testing positive or coming into contact with infected people will need to stay away from their teams. When the guidelines were proposed at the end of May, they called for those testing positive to be quarantined until two weeks had passed since they produced a negative test.
Quarantines in the new guidelines will vary with the amount of perceived risk of transmitting the virus in accordance with standards set by the health ministry, reflecting changes in how much is known about the virus.
The panel of public health experts, which has been advising Nippon Professional Baseball and pro soccer's J-League on how to hold games while minimizing the infection risk, has emphasized the importance of "changing the guidelines on the run."
The first games will be held without fans. During the games, players will be prohibited from spitting and giving high-fives. Members of the media will not be allowed on the field or in the dugouts and must socially distance.
The NPB season, originally scheduled to open on March 20, has been reduced to 120 games, with each game limited to a maximum of 10 innings. Each club will be able to suit up 26 players instead of 25. Teams will also be allowed to make out the game roster from 31 active players instead of 29.
Up to five imported players will be allowed on the active roster, but the limit of four per game will remain with up to three pitchers or position players.