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J-League will return to action on July 4

Andres Iniesta,Captain of Vissel Kobe celebrates the win during the Xerox Super Cup between Yokohama F.Marinos and Vissel Kobe at Saitama Stadium on February 08, 2020 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

With Japan’s state of emergency now lifted across the country, its top football league, the J-League, has announced it will resume games on July 4 after an almost four-month gap due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

J-League clubs chose July 4 over an alternative June 26 start date to give players more time to prepare. The players will now have five weeks of training before they play again.

The Japanese second division, J2, will restart on June 27, as will the third-tier J3, the J-League said.

J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai announced plans for Covid-19 tests before the restart for all players, staff and match officials, numbering about 2,400 individuals in total. Everyone will be re-tested at two-week intervals. The league will establish its own testing facility to conduct the examinations, Kyodo News reported.

Matches will be played with no fans in attendance. The league said it will review the country’s progress on limiting the spread of Covid-19 before making any decision on allowing spectators back into stadiums.

Last week, the J-League revealed a “special sponsorship” arrangement with existing title sponsor Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company in response to Covid-19. The deal will see the insurance brand work with the league and clubs to promote public health and help revitalise communities affected by Covid-19.