NJPW President Takami Ohbari Announces New Guidelines For Vocal Crowd Noise At Live Events

NJPW takes a major step forward in the return of cheering at live events.

Fns have not been able to cheer at full-capacity NJPW shows since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. They had been following a clap-only mandate until the policy somewhat changed in September 2022. At the time, NJPW announced that some fans could cheer at reduced-capacity shows, starting in September.

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Earlier this month, NJPW President Takami Ohmari attended a meeting with other heads of combat sports organizations in Japan, and he requested the lifting of the vocal crowd noise ban.

During a press conference for Wrestle Kingdom 17 on December 15, Ohbari announced that NJPW can now run events at 100% capacity for non-cheering crowds at 50% for cheering crowds. He thanked the fans for following the guidelines. Ohbari stated that wrestling is best enjoyed with a full crowd that can cheer and boo as they wish. Ohbari made it clear that the new guidelines have been constructed following consultation with the government's infectious disease panel and the Japan Sports Authority.

To clarify, the rules regarding no "loud voice" cheering have not changed, but the definition of cheering itself has been altered, following these consultations. He called the development an "in principle and effective" return to cheering at events.

Ohbari explained that "long singing and rally songs" are not permitted, but "counting with a referee, cheering with a catchphrase... or chanting for wrestlers is allowed". He also stated that fans will still be asked to wear masks to events in the interest of safety.

Additionally, Ohbari noted that venues or municipalities may not follow NJPW's guidelines, and some may not permit vocal crowds, but the Tokyo Dome will follow these rules. Lastly, Ohbari announced that there will be a limited section of socially distanced seats" for fans who want to cheer "even longer and louder" than the guidelines permit.

In a tweet, Ohbari commented on the news by simply writing, "Cheering is back!"

Check out the updated card for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 here.

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