J-League: All matches postponed until mid-March amid COVID-19 epidemic

J.League Kick Off Conference
Modified 25 Feb 2020

An announcement was made by J-League Chairman Mr. Mitsuru Murai at the JFA House in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon announcing the decision to postpone upcoming fixtures in light of the escalating COVID-19 epidemic.

In an attempt to prevent further spreading of COVID-19 infections, Murai declared that the J-League will postpone all four of their competitions until March 15th.

Matchday 2, 3 and 4 of J1 and J2, along with Matchday 1 and 2 of J3, will now be postponed and rescheduled at a later date. Rounds 2 and 3 of the J-League Cup will also not go ahead as scheduled.

The Japanese Health Ministry believe that the coming weeks will prove critical in determining whether the spread of the infection will accelerate rapidly or remain containable.

Murai insisted that the decision was not taken lightly, but the J-League must take action to ensure the epidemic is kept at bay at this crucial time.

The Chairman though did not indicate if further match postponements would be made after March 15th should the situation fail to improve, neither was there any indication as to when the postponed matches would be played.

Although Murai was able to confirm that a behind closed doors scenario is the last resort. There has been a certain amount of backlash on social media questioning how the decision was reached and why Matchday 1 was cleared to go ahead.

Further doubt is also cast over other sporting events set to take place in the comings, with the Nippon Pro Baseball league set to play some games behind closed doors.

Rakuten and Vissel Kobe President, Hiroshi Mikitani, took preventative measures this weekend by asking fans to refrain from chanting, singing and waving flags at their home game against Yokohama FC.

The decision comes after the AFC Champions League chose to postpone matches involving Chinese clubs as well as relocating the AFC Olympic Women’s Qualifying tournament was moved from the Chinese city of Wuhan to Australia.

Published 25 Feb 2020
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