• Baseball

Koshien tournament starts with no limits on spectators

Jiji Press
The stands are filled for the opening ceremony at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on Saturday.

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo — With no restrictions on attendance for the first time in three years but some coronavirus protocols still in place, the 104th National High School Baseball Championship opened Saturday at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture.

The opening ceremony, delayed 30 minutes by rain, had only the captain of each of the 49 schools participating as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections.

Jiji Press
The march into the stadium is limited to team captains as a coronavirus countermeasure.

The Japan High School Baseball Federation has set certain rules for the tournament, which will run 17 days including rest days, such as prohibiting verbal cheering and limiting the number of brass band members to 50 or less.

Prior to the opening game, Yuki Saito, who led Tokyo’s Waseda Jitsugyo High School to the championship in 2006 and retired from pro baseball last season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

At last year’s tournament, attendance was limited to spectators directly related to the school playing in that day’s games, with no general admission. A limit of 2,000 students, teachers and others was set per school. The tournament was canceled in 2020.