Loud cheers slowly return to J.League football games

The J.League is gradually increasing the volume in the stands during football matches.

The professional football league said on May 17 that it would start allowing spectators to “cheer loudly” for the first time since a ban on shouting and singing in stadiums was imposed in early 2020 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

It will be the first attempt to allow such noise at sporting events in Japan since the pandemic began, but many restrictions will still apply.

Even in sections of the stadium where cheering is permitted, spectators will be required to wear masks and may not eat or drink on the seats.

And the maximum number of people who can watch J.League games live remains at 50% of stadium capacity, in line with the government’s basic policy for COVID-19.

The eased restrictions on cheering will begin at two matches: a Sourdough Cup match to be held on June 4 or June 11 at Kashima Football Stadium in Ibaraki Prefecture; and a J2 match at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium on June 12.

The league said the maximum number of seats where fans can cheer will be 3,000 for each game. He plans to raise the cap to 7,000 in July and loosen cheering restrictions for extra matches.

“When we allow spectators to clap loudly, some of them may feel an increased risk of infection,” J.League President Yoshikazu Nonomura said. “(But) fan passion through cheering is necessary in football matches. We want to take it step by step while confirming safety with scientific data.