TOKYO: The J-League first division, the top tier of the Japanese football league system, resumed behind closed doors after a near four-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nine games were played on Saturday and all 18 top-flight teams were in action, including defending champions Yokohama who faced Urawa Reds in Saitama, just on the outskirts of Tokyo. The league is expected to gradually allow fans to enter stadiums once again from July 10. The J-League had to be suspended in February after just one round of matches due to the pandemic.
The league season is now expected to wrap up on December 19 and will be followed by the Emperor's Cup final on January 1. The Levain Cup will also go forward under a modified format on August 5, with group opponents facing each other once instead of playing home and away.
The league has suspended relegation this season to help clubs that are already struggling for revenue due to the unexpected break in the season.
The second and third tiers of Japanese football also resumed action. While J2 also had completed one round before its suspension in February, J3 played its opening rounds in March. J2, on the other hand, resumed a week ago. Japan has reported just under 1,000 deaths from the virus, out of a population of 126 million. IANS