Japan has eased novel coronavirus preventive rules for businesses, and from July 10 events with up to 5,000 participants are allowed to take place. These events include concerts, professional sports games and art exhibitions. Nippon Professional Baseball and J-League soccer, which had been holding games with no spectators, are now able to invite fans to stadiums.
While the number of new infections in Japan has been increasing mainly in the capital, the country's medical service apparently still has sufficient capacity. Perhaps because of this, the government went ahead with further relaxing the restrictions as planned.
However, large-scale events in cities where people would gather from across the country could spread infections to regional areas. Event organizers are required to continue thoroughly implementing preventive measures according to the guidelines set by their respective industries.
It is crucial to apply measures such as temperature checks before visitors enter venues and social distancing when people are seated to lower the risk of infections. To prevent causing any confusion, we request that the organizers let the audience know in advance about infection preventive measures. It is also important that they introduce registration systems for the participants and create lists of guests so that the authorities will be able to contact them in case infections at the events are later detected.
Cooperation from spectators is a must especially in large events. If people decide to go to such events, they are required to refrain from taking actions that would increase the risk of infections.
At pro baseball games, spectators are requested not to cheer loudly or use instruments, or sing songs, among other activities. The same goes for the use of balloons that get launched from the stands during games. Some teams have requested their fans not to move away from their own assigned seats to pick up balls that fly into the stands.
Meanwhile, J-League will not be selling alcoholic beverages at stadiums throughout July. Some soccer fans may argue that drinking is part of the fun when watching matches, but the operator apparently prioritized the prevention of any potential trouble.
There have been coronavirus infections reported at sport bars. People need to stay vigilant about eating and drinking in large groups before or after events.
If infections spread because of careless actions, we may see a reintroduction of restrictions on large events. We also ask that people who don't feel well refrain from attending such events.
As Japan is unable to clearly see an end to the novel coronavirus outbreak, it must continue seeking more appropriate ways to enjoy sporting and cultural activities, given the circumstances.