Soccer-J-League to hold 11 games in empty stadiums due to emergency-Kyodo


(Reuters) - Japan’s J-league has barred fans from 11 upcoming matches in its top two divisions during a COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency starting Sunday, Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan on Friday declared “short and powerful” states of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo as the country struggles to contain a resurgent coronavirus pandemic three months before the Olympics.

Big sporting events are required to be held without fans from April 25 to May 11 and the J-League announced on Saturday that seven matches in western Japan, including three top-flight games and two League Cup ties, would be behind closed doors.

The league added on Sunday that next Saturday’s game between FC Tokyo and Yokohama F Marinos in Tokyo and three more matches from the second division in the capital would be played without supporters present, according to Kyodo.

It is the first time that J-League games will be held behind closed doors since July.

“The J-League takes pride in having the know-how to provide a safe and secure match-day experience,” J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai was quoted as saying by Kyodo on Saturday.

“We feel sorry about our inadequacy in being unable to allow (fan) visits to the matches.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry)