The Japan Racing Association said Thursday it will extend course closures through May 31 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, meaning the Japanese Derby and a number of other high-profile races will be run behind closed doors.

The period during which horse races are to be held without spectators will be extended for all events in Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukushima and Niigata.

Races in other parts of the country have been called off indefinitely.

The Grade 1 Japanese Derby, also known as the Tokyo Yushun, is the second leg of the prestigious Japanese Triple Crown and is staged at the Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu.

Other G1 races that will be held without fans in attendance include the spring Tenno-sho in Kyoto on May 3, the NHK Mile Cup in Tokyo on May 10, the Victoria Mile in Tokyo on May 17 and the Japanese Oaks at Tokyo Racecourse, scheduled for May 24.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the JRA closed racecourses to spectators from Feb. 29. Those wishing to place bets have been forced to do so by phone or online.

After the Japanese government's initial state of emergency came into force over seven prefectures on April 7, the national governing body of horse racing began restricting the movement of animals and staff and implemented enhanced hygiene measures so races can go ahead.

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