Nippon Professional Baseball postpones start of season due to coronavirus

Baseballs before a Nippon Professional Baseball game
Mar 17, 2019; Tokyo, Japan; Baseballs sit atop a pitching machine as seen before the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Nippon Professional Baseball is postponing the beginning of its 2020 season due to the spread of the coronavirus, per Jeff Passan and Jim Allen.

NPB commissioner Atsushi Saito announced the decision following an emergency meeting with representatives for the 12 teams.

“How must we (pro baseball) act? We must protect the players, staff, families, but no one more so than the fans” Saito said, via Jim Allen. “We must protect the cultural legacy of pro baseball. That is why we made this decision.”

The NPB season was set to hold opening Day on March 20, but the league is now pushing the start of its season back until the middle of April, per the report.

Japan’s top baseball league also suspended play in 2011 following the devastating earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima.

The NFL, NHL and NBA have each started taking steps to ensure the safety of fans and players with the ongoing spread of COVID-19. MLB currently has no plans to postpone the start of the 2020 season.