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Baseball: Japan Pacific League presidents agree April 24 Opening Day is difficult

Nagoya Stadium, home to the Chunichi Dragons baseball club's farm team, is disinfected in Nagoya, central Japan, on March 30, 2020. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The six team presidents of Japanese pro baseball's Pacific League agreed in an online meeting Tuesday it will be difficult to open the season on April 24, during the current coronavirus outbreak, a source within the league said.

    Both of Nippon Professional Baseball's six-team, top-flight leagues, the Central and Pacific, were originally slated to open play on March 20, but due to the spread of the coronavirus that date has now been postponed until April 24. Representatives of the 12 teams are set to meet on Friday, when the PL is expected to suggest another postponement.

    "Currently, the number of cases is increasing in Tokyo, and ballplayers have been infected too," said SoftBank Hawks President Yoshimitsu Goto, who added that the original plan for each team to play 143 regular season games may have to be sacrificed.

    "We are looking at this very carefully. We are looking at a new Opening Day (date), even if it means not playing a 143-game schedule."

    The teams played most of their preseason exhibition games behind closed doors in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Teams had been playing minor league practice games until last week, when three players with the CL's Hanshin Tigers tested positive for the coronavirus.

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