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Coronavirus: Japanese football to resume on April 25 with temporary ban on away fans

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Just 24 hours after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai has said the top tier of Japanese football plans to restart on May 9.

After agreeing on measures with all 56 clubs in Japan on Tuesday, Murai said there will be a gradual resumption of football in the country after it was suspended on Feb. 25, meaning that leagues with smaller attendances start first.

The third-tier J3 will be ready to kick-off on April 25, while the second-tier J2 will resume on May 2 -- one week before the top tier finally restarts.

Murai said there will be a number of measures taken to reduce the risk of infection, including a ban on away fans for two months in an attempt to stop people moving around the country.

There will also be a system introduced that will limit the number of tickets sold so fans will not be next to each other, as well as the installment of added safety equipment in stadium such as thermometers.

"The protocol has to be decided," Murai said in an online briefing on Wednesday. "It's a very difficult problem and we will be working on the details."

Murai also said that active fan groups who usually stand behind goals, wave flags and lead chants will be asked to support their teams in a different way.

"A discussion has begun on a new style, such as refraining from cheering, '' Murai said. "We will continue to provide more details."

Authorities have already ruled that there will be no relegation this season and the J.League top tier will expand from 18 to 20 teams in 2021.

Japan has so far escaped some of the worst ravages of the coronavirus, with 1,128 confirmed cases and 52 deaths. While schools across the country have been closed, life in Tokyo has been carrying on almost as normal with no enforced closure of bars or restaurants.