New developments in Japan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic have had new impacts on the country’s pro wrestling industry.
Due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and increasing concerns about overwhelming the healthcare system, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency yesterday through May 6. Wrestling companies that had been holding no-fans shows, including All Japan Pro Wrestling and Dragon Gate, have begun to outright cancel events in April and May, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, which started canceling shows at the end of February, has called off its events scheduled through Wrestling Dontaku on May 4.
On its website, NJPW announced the cancelations with the statement:
In response to the continuing Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and in light of state of emergency measures across Japan announced on April 7, New Japan Pro-Wrestling has arrived at the decision to cancel all events that were scheduled up to and including Wrestling Dontaku 2020 on May 3 & 4.
We deeply apologize to fans who were looking forward to these events. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the disease. As eager as everyone at New Japan Pro-Wrestling is to return to the ring as soon as possible, the health and safety of our fans, wrestlers and staff, as well as society at large is our utmost concern.
NJPW also says the company will “make announcements about events scheduled after May 4 upon careful monitoring of this developing situation” and that they are “exploring the possibility of presenting matches without fans in attendance” but “this would only happen if staff and wrestler health and safety can be protected to the highest possible standard.”
The soonest scheduled New Japan show that hasn’t been canceled is on May 12, the beginning of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. With wrestling events on hold, NJPW has been putting talk show programs called the NJPW Together Project featuring its wrestlers on its NJPW World streaming service.