Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball to Start Season on June 19

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Nippon Professional Baseball has received approval to start its season, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, on June 19.

"I am very pleased we could settle on an Opening Day," commissioner Atsushi Saito in an online press conference Monday. "But we will prepare. It is important to proceed carefully to protect the players, the people connected with the game and their families. We have created detailed guidelines so we can safely hold games."

NPB's decision comes after the Japanese government's advisory panel approved to end its state of emergency for certain areas Monday, making it possible for baseball to return.

According to the Japan Times, the league will shorten its season from 143 games to 120. The league will open the campaign without fans in attendance but hopes it can allow spectators at games later in the summer. NPB has already removed its interleague games and annual All-Star series from its 2020 schedule and is reportedly considering capping games at nine innings.

Teams will play practice games from June 2-14 to prepare for the upcoming season.

The NPB's decision marks the second major baseball league returning amid the pandemic. The Korean Baseball Organization resumed earlier this month after a five-week delay.