Photo/Illutration The fifth liaison meeting between Nippon Professional Baseball and the J.League to discuss measures against the coronavirus (Provided by the J.League)

Japanese professional baseball and soccer leagues continue to be sidelined indefinitely due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

On April 3, officials of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and the J.League announced the postponement of the start and resumption of their respective seasons until May or later.

The decision was made at the fifth liaison meeting between NPB and the J.League to discuss the effects of the coronavirus.

“The situation is only getting worse,” NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito said at a news conference after the meeting. “I’m bracing for (further) postponements.”

J.League Chairman Mitsuru Murai said, “I realize that it’s extremely difficult to resume the season under the current schedule.”

NPB and the J.League held the April 3 panel meeting and news conference via a web conferencing system.

NPB was hoping to start the season on April 24 after postponing the March 20 season opener to April 10 at the earliest due to the spread of the infectious disease.

The J.League, meanwhile, planned to resume official matches in its third division on April 25. The J.League had suspended games after the first round because of the outbreak and announced on March 9 that the season would not restart on March 18 as originally planned.

A team of experts at the meeting recommended that the start of the seasons be postponed as late as possible, and that NPB and the J.League should aim for starting and resuming their respective seasons around late May at the earliest.

The further postponements come as some players in both sports have tested positive for the coronavirus.

One professional baseball player of the Hanshin Tigers was confirmed to be infected on March 26 and two of his teammates on March 27. All players of the team were told to remain at home.

Some Pacific League squads suspended team activities to prevent the spread of the virus. Six teams of the league agreed to give up starting the season on April 24 at a meeting of their representatives on March 31.

The J.League was aiming to resume play in its third division on April 25, May 2 for the second division and May 9 for the first division, but one Vissel Kobe player in the first division and some other players have tested positive so far.