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Japan postpones its baseball season even further

JAPAN-HEALTH-VIRUS-FBL-BASEBALL

Atsushi Saito (L), commissioner of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, speaks next to Mitsuru Murai, J-League football chairman, during a press conference to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus in Tokyo on March 2, 2020. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Originally the NPB season -- Japan’s major league -- was to begin on March 20, but was postponed to April 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the NPB is pushing it back even further.

Japanese baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito, speaking this morning:

“Unfortunately things are getting worse now . . . We’ll have a meeting with all 12 teams, but it appears like we’ll have to be prepared for an extension [to our postponement].”

Saito also said the thought of playing regular season games in empty stadiums could no longer be dismissed out of hand.

Japanese baseball initially moved to postpone its season on March 9. Soon after that there were many reports suggesting that Japan’s initial response to the outbreak had gotten the virus relatively under control. Cases have spiked in Japan of late, however, and there is increasing backlash to the government’s handling of the crisis. As of Wednesday, there were more than 2,300 cases across Japan, and 57 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Kyodo News reports that NPB is now hoping to open its regular season in late May, but did not announce a date.

Follow @craigcalcaterra