NPB and J. League to explore raising current attendance limits

Japan Times -- Oct 06

Nippon Professional Baseball and the J. League will explore the possibility of raising the current caps on attendance, a process that will include consultations with an epidemiologist, among others, the two leagues announced following the latest meeting of their joint COVID-19 task force on Monday.

According to NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito, two experts who study large-gathering events and an epidemiologist were included in Monday’s meeting.

The task force’s medical panel didn’t go into detail about the suggestions the trio raised during the meeting. Mitsuo Kaku, who leads the medical panel, said the task force had already been exchanging data with experts who study large gatherings.

Kaku said the panel had been given a hypothetical case in which a 60,000-seat venue was filled to capacity. Data from the case, he said, indicates that if those in charge of venues follow COVID-19 precautions, the risk of infection could be lowered.

He stressed that NPB, the J. League and other circuits have to move cautiously in regard to relaxing the limits, which cap attendance at half of a venue’s capacity. Kaku was uncertain about whether or not organizers of large-scale events should try to go beyond half-capacity in the near future.

But the specially-appointed infection control and prevention professor at Tohoku Medical Pharmaceutical University added that it’s necessary to take steps toward a return to normalcy.