Pro Baseball, Soccer To Welcome Fans From Friday

Pro baseball, soccer to welcome fans from Friday

Officials of Japan's professional baseball and soccer leagues have agreed to welcome back fans to stadiums from Friday as scheduled, even as coronavirus numbers continue to rise.

The two sports' organizers held a joint task force meeting online on Monday that included infectious disease experts.

Pro baseball started the 2020 season in June, and top-division soccer games resumed in July, both without spectators as a precaution against the coronavirus.

The decision to admit fans comes despite a recent rise in new daily cases. Tokyo had confirmed more than 100 new infections for four straight days through Sunday.

Experts told the meeting that the situation does not allow optimism, but they don't envision an explosive increase in community infections at this time.

The officials then agreed both the Nippon Professional Baseball teams and J-League soccer clubs will go ahead with their plans to readmit spectators.

The number of spectators will be limited to whichever is smaller -- up to 5,000 fans, or less than half the stadium capacity -- for now.

Professor Kaku Mitsuo at Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University says it will not be possible to eliminate risks completely. But he says it is necessary to try to move ahead by resuming social and economic activities little by little.