Japan’s professional baseball and soccer leagues will begin allowing fans this week, the heads of both leagues said on Monday.

Soccer and baseball officials said the first day with fans will be Friday. The maximum number will be 5,000 or 50% of the stadium capacity — whichever is smaller.

Officials said they plan to allow stadiums to be filled to 50% capacity beginning on Aug. 1.

“We will keep a close eye on this guideline to see if it changes significantly,” said Mitsuru Murai, head of Japan’s soccer league, the J-League. “If there are no major changes, we’ll proceed with the original plan.”

Mitsuo Kaku, a professor at Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University, was optimistic in an online news conference with league officials.

“Of course, we have to keep an eye on the infection situation, but I think it is necessary to try this,” he said. “We are in the situation where we need to continue to run social and economic activities while managing risks.”

BASKETBALL

WNBA: Two players on the Indiana Fever were among the seven positive tests for the coronavirus across the WNBA, the team announced.

The league and teams didn’t reveal who the players were. All 137 WNBA players were tested over the past week as the teams prepared to head to Florida on Monday for the upcoming season, which will be played at IMG Academy.

The Fever will delay their travel by at least five days to self-quarantine in case any of them came into close contact with the infected players.

The WNBA hopes to start training camp later this week, with the regular season set to begin around July 24.

AUTO RACING

NASCAR: An injured crew member on Ryan Blaney’s NASCAR team has returned to Team Penske’s headquarters in North Carolina, where he will undergo further evaluation.

Zachary Price was treated and released from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis and returned home with the rest of Penske’s travel party, the team said in a statement Monday.

He was injured early in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 during a six-car pileup near the entrance of pit road. Price was pinned between Blaney’s No. 12 Ford and another car, which brought out a red flag. Track workers put Price on a stretcher and he appeared to be smiling before being placed into an ambulance.

Five of the drivers involved were checked and released from the infield medical center while Blaney continued to race.

Blaney drives for Roger Penske, who bought the speedway in November from the Hulman-George family.

PARALYMPICS

ZANARDI SURGERY: Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of the Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital’s medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: