The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shut down New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s 2020 schedule since February 26th. The promotion has canceled all of its planned events, including the New Japan Cup, Sakura Genesis, and Best Of The Super Juniors 27. We reported earlier that Wrestle Dynasty at Madison Square Garden was also postponed until 2021.
This week NJPW President Harold Meij set out their roadmap to return to live events.
Meij outlined three reasons why they decided not to hold shows during the pandemic.
• The promotion wanted to protect the health and safety of their fans and wrestlers
• A lack of open venues
• NJPW holds themselves to the highest ethical standards, and running empty arena shows would have reflected badly on New Japan and the professional wrestling industry. This would have also damaged their reputation as “a positive force for social good.”
Holding empty arena shows will be the first step after Japan’s state of emergency is over, the number of new coronavirus infections declines, and when matches can occur in “properly disinfected and safe settings.”
Once these three conditions are met, matches will resume in Japan and their Los Angeles Dojo. However, their still could be an issue with Los Angeles, given the state of California is on a different timeline than Japan.
Eventually, New Japan will look to run shows with fans. When that occurs, wrestlers will be tested before entering the building, and fans will have their temperature taken. Face masks will also be required for spectators. Also, social distancing will be enforced throughout the venue. Meij added that the arenas being used would be appropriately disinfected and ventilated.
When the promotion can put its roadmap into action remains to be seen. Japan is currently under a state of emergency until May 31st.There have been discussions in the past few days about lifting restrictions in up to 34 of the country’s 47 prefectures soon.
New COVID-19 cases in Japan have also declined significantly since the peak on April 11th, but cases continue to fluctuate with 150 new infections having been diagnosed recently.