Hiroshi Tanahashi: Running Events In The Middle Of A Pandemic Presents The Wrong Image For Wrestling

While wrestling in America has continued for WWE and AEW amid the coronavirus pandemic, it has stopped for NJPW in Japan. NJPW has yet to run any events since the pandemic hit and has canceled major events like the New Japan Cup and Best of Super Juniors.

And NJPW "Ace" Hiroshi Tanahashi believes this is the right call. 

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“There isn’t a governing body for Japanese pro wrestling,” Tanahashi told Sports Illustrated. “As such, we can’t necessarily enforce cancelations. That’s been the responsibility of each company. But to run events in the middle of a pandemic presents the wrong image of professional wrestling to society and would deal a black eye to the industry that might still remain even after the pandemic ends. I thought it was important for us to come together, understand exactly what’s happening and do what’s right, even if that means returning to action after other pro sports.”

Japan lifted the state of emergency earlier this week and will allow sporting events to take place with no fans beginning on June 19. NJPW President Harold Meij recently revealed that the company has explored the possibility of empty arena shows, but nothing has been announced. 

Tanahashi ended the interview with Sports Illustrated by delivering a positive message, saying, "Just imagine something for me. Imagine that this pandemic is behind us and wrestling is back. Imagine thousands of fans together, cheering on the wrestlers fighting in the ring. Imagine those wrestlers, giving it absolutely everything they have. That mental image alone is pretty motivating. So please everyone, take care of yourselves. Let’s get through this, and we’ll meet again with smiles on our faces someday soon.”

It is unknown when NJPW will resume holding events. As of now, they have canceled all events through June 6.

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