TOKYO – The government has agreed to allow professional athletes and coaches, including those with pro baseball and soccer teams, to enter Japan provided they undergo strict anti-virus measures, a source with knowledge of the matter said Thursday.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, around 100 pro athletes and coaches have been unable to enter the country. Japan’s pro soccer J-League opened its season in February, while Nippon Professional Baseball is set to begin its season on March 26.
The government has already begun informing affected pro sports bodies of these developments, the source said.
Considering that sports are in the public interest, these individuals will be able to enter Japan under a “special circumstances” immigration exemption. Individuals who are isolated and undergo periodic testing will be able to train during their subsequent 14-day quarantine period.
With the current state of emergency set to end on Sunday, these sports exemptions will apparently go into effect from Monday. The J-League intends to use the J-Village national soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture as an isolation facility.
According to the source, each individual’s quarantine will begin the day after arriving in Japan, and they will not be allowed to join others in training until tests taken on their third day are confirmed as negative.
Players and coaches will need to stay at facilities where entire floors have been reserved for them, and they will be unable to go out except to their practice venue. Testing will be done every three to four days, and individuals testing negative through the 14-day period may join their teams for training or competition.
In order to strengthen Japan’s national teams ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, the government had already approved special circumstance exemptions for the entry of foreign athletes. However, these measures were put on hold with the start of the current state of emergency in January.