Kashima Medical Association has announced that Kashima Stadium, the home of Japan Professional Football League (J-League) Division 1 side Kashima Antlers FC, will be used as a drive-through testing site to detect COVID-19 infection from today (Monday).

A maximum of 20 PCR swab tests per day will be carried out at the site, which is expected to operate for the next two months.

The stadium, which will be the first J-League facility to be utilised as a testing site, was originally built in 1993 by Ibaraki Prefecture before a major redevelopment was carried out to host 2002 FIFA World Cup matches. The Antlers have been the venue’s designated operator since 2006.

All J-League matches have been suspended since the end of February through to at least June 7 and the league’s chairman, Mitsuru Murai, last month offered to the Japanese government that the club facilities, including the training grounds and offices, could be made available and be used as testing sites. However, a number of clubs expressed their concerns saying that their offices and facilities may be too small for large-scale medical and testing operations.

According to the Ibaraki Shimbun Cross Eye media outlet, the Kashima Stadium testing site will be used for patients of the Rokko region for whom doctors recommend PCR tests need to be done. Five south-east Ibaraki cities, namely Kashima, Itako, Kamisu, Namegata, and Hokota, comprise the Rokko region. Once diagnosis is done, the Itako Public Health Centre will select the patients who can visit the stadium testing site between 1pm and 3pm local time on weekdays.

Both the national government and Ibaraki prefecture will partially fund the cost of the testing, while the aforementioned Rokko cities will cover the remainder and also provide medical personnel from their regional hospitals and medical clinics.

Norio Matsukura, chairman of the Kashima Medical Association, said: “A site where the patients can take PCR swab tests appropriately is urgently required for our region.”

Koichi Nishikiori, Mayor of the City of Kashima, added: “The Antlers helping this programme gives us a sense of courage, and we will work together to end this pandemic.”

Fumiaki Koizumi, president of Kashima Antlers Football Club, said: “We will work closely with the Kashima Medical Association, who will be the main operator of the testing site, hospitals and medical clinics of the Rokko region and the five cities comprising the region, all of whom are our hometowns, and hopefully things will improve.

“The club is willing to cooperate all the way until we regain the way of life that we once thought was normal, the way football was part of our everyday life.”

Image: Kashima Antlers

Article provided by The Stadium Hub