THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
June 9, 2020 at 18:18 JST
All players, coaches and staff members of Japan’s 12 professional baseball teams will undergo periodic testing for the novel coronavirus, Nippon Professional Baseball decided on June 8.
The decision, reached in an online meeting between NPB and representatives of the teams, came days after two players for the Yomiuri Giants were confirmed infected with the virus.
The first round of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests will be completed by opening day on June 19. During the already delayed season, the tests will be conducted once a month.
A team of health experts jointly set up by NPB and the J.League, Japan’s professional soccer league, proposed the PCR tests at a task force liaison meeting on June 8.
“A few weeks ago, some people were opposed to testing all players who were in good health condition, but now the situation is different,” NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito said at a news conference. “We concluded that all of them should take the tests for their own safety.”
The NPB plans to ask private companies to do the testing using saliva samples. The J.League has already decided to have all players take the tests.
NPB has yet to decide on when players who test positive can return to the field.
They are expected to self-isolate at home for a while after being released from hospitals.
“If someone tests positive now, he needs to do his best within the rules,” Saito said. “Even after he is discharged from a hospital, he can’t join the team and play right away.
“However, the situation is changing, so we would like to consult with the health ministry and our associates.”
If players test positive or have been in close contact with infected individuals, a special executive committee will decide on whether to cancel games involving the players’ teams.
The Yomiuri Giants have conducted antibody tests for players and staff members on request. Four players and staff were confirmed to have the antibody.
Two players, including infielder Hayato Sakamoto, also had positive PCR test results for the novel coronavirus on June 3. A practice game between the Giants and the Seibu Lions was canceled on that day.
A decision was also reached on June 8 to move up the date of this year’s draft from Nov. 5 to Oct. 26.
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