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Hope for Harambee Stars striker as Japan league nears restart

Saturday May 30 2020
olunga_pix

Kashiwa Reysol forward Michael Olunga celebrates after scoring against Gamba Osaka during their Japanese J1 League match at Suita Football City Stadium in Osaka on February 16, 2020. PHOTO | COURTESY

By SAMUEL GACHARIRA

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga will resume action for his club Kashiwa Reysol after Japan's J-League announced the season will restart early July.

Olunga began the new campaign on a high scoring a brace as Kashiwa Reysol beat Consadole Sapporo 4-2 in the league opener on February 22 before the competition was indefinitely suspended three days later due to the novel coronavirus.

Professional football games in Japan will resume in early July without spectators in stadiums after a four-month suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak, the J-League said Friday.

RESTART DATE

"We have decided to resume games on July 4" for the first division, league chairman Mitsuru Murai announced online.

"Making a start on July 4 means it is too early to invite spectators," he said. Lower divisions will resume games in late June.

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Football is the second major professional sport in Japan to announce a return to action after a break forced by the pandemic, following the baseball league's announcement it would return to play in June.

J-League first-division Cerezo Osaka player Yoichiro Kakitani said "worries have not been completely cleared... but it will be best that all teams in the J-League work together and face off with mutual respect."

The J-League kicked off the season for one weekend in February before suspending it.

Following the government announcement on Monday that it will lift a nationwide state of emergency, Japan's professional baseball league announced it would start its coronavirus-delayed season on June 19 but without spectators.

The virus has killed hundreds of thousands, infected millions and decimated the annual sporting calendar internationally.

It forced a one-year delay of the summer Tokyo Olympics, and suspended everything from in Japan from sumo to the summer high-school baseball tournament -- an enormously popular event that annually receives wall-to-wall live television coverage.

Additional reporting by AFP

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