Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and the J-League football competition are set to welcome a limited number of fans back into stadiums from this week.

On June 22, the NPB and J-League proposed that fans should be allowed back into stadiums from July 10 and despite a recent rise in COVID-19 infections in Japan, these plans remain in place.

It was proposed that match attendances would be capped at 5,000 or 50 per cent of the stadium’s capacity – whichever is smaller. NPB commissioner Atsushi Saito is confident that fans will be allowed back from Friday.

“Although there is a limit of 5,000 we are expecting to have our fans in stadiums starting this Friday,” Saito said, according to the Japan Times newspaper. “In the meantime, there have been more than 100 cases (on a daily basis) around Tokyo.

“We are hoping that it does not lead to travel restrictions, but this is a disease. It’s difficult to anticipate (the future). But we’ll do our best so that we won’t have anyone become infected.”

Mitsuru Murai, head of the J-League, said that a “close eye” will be kept on the guidelines but the league is set to proceed with plans to welcome fans back if there are “no major changes”.

The NPB season resumed on June 19, with the J-League campaign returning on Saturday.

The update comes after Tokyo reported over 100 infections for the fifth day in a row, marking the largest increase since May. The COVID-19 pandemic has already forced the postponement of this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, with the events now set to take place next year.

Image: J. League