• Kyodo

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The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks will play their home games behind closed doors while Fukuoka Prefecture remains under a state of emergency to curb coronavirus infections, the Pacific League club said Tuesday.

The reigning Japan Series champions have decided to shut spectators out of Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome on a voluntary basis in light of the virus situation in the southwestern Japan prefecture.

The ongoing state of emergency is in place until May 31. The Hawks are scheduled to host five Nippon Professional Baseball games during the period — two against the Orix Buffaloes this weekend, and a three-game series with the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants from May 28.

The club plans to continue hosting games behind closed doors if the state of emergency is extended and will issue refunds for tickets already sold.

Limited numbers of spectators have returned to ballparks in affected areas since May 12 under a partial relaxation of emergency conditions, with the exception of Kyocera Dome Osaka, where games remain behind closed doors at the request of the local government.

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