The Osaka Evessa announced Tuesday that three more of their players have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of infected players and team officials to eight.
The Evessa became the first B. League club to suffer infections by the coronavirus on April 2 when they announced that an unnamed player had tested positive the previous day.
Two players belonging to the West Division club tested positive on Sunday, while another was added to the list on Monday. A club official also has the pneumonia-causing virus.
Osaka has more infected players than any other professional sports team in Japan. None of the players' names have been revealed.
Asked why the club has hesitated over publicizing the list of infected players, President Naoki Yasui said in a video news conference on Wednesday that it needs to protect the players' privacy rights and cannot disclose their identities without their consent.
“When we had our first player infected with the virus, we talked about (whether we would reveal his name) with him until right before the news conference (on April 2),” Yasui said. “We discussed other sports teams (like the Hanshin Tigers and Vissel Kobe) having made their players’ names public. And we talked about whether we as the Evessa should take similar actions. But in the end, we could not receive an agreement from (the player).”
Yasui added that the club has not held similar discussions with the other six other players, a decision made in deference to the decision of the first player.
Osaka had announced that five players dined with people from outside the club on March 24 and that all five have tested positive. Yasui said that the Evessa have not been recognized as a cluster infection by the authorities.
“We the Osaka Evessa keenly feel we have caused trouble to the sporting community (in Japan),” Yasui said. “How they got infected has not been made clear yet. So it’s difficult for us to not be able to share (that information) with other sports teams.”