12 Aug. 2020
The Japan Handball Association (JHA) and Japan Handball League (JHL) have announced that the 45th edition of the Men’s and Women’s Handball Leagues will start on Saturday 29 August, following the pause in handball-related activities in the Asian country due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
11 men’s teams and nine women’s teams will take part in their respective leagues with 182 games to be played in total – 110 for the men and 72 for the women.
The regular season will take place from 29 August 2020 to 28 February 2021, with the top four teams in each league then moving through to the play-offs, scheduled for 12 to 14 March at the Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo. The venue hosted wrestling at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The men’s teams are Toyota Motor East Japan, Osaki Electric, Hokuriku Electric Power, Daido Steel, Toyota Auto Body, Toyoda Gosei, Wakunaga Pharmaceutical, Toyota Boshoku Kyushu, Ryukyu Corazon, Golden Wolves Fukuoka – in just their second season – and new side Zeekstar Tokyo.
The women’s teams are Prestige International Aranmare, Hokkoku Bank, Hida Takayama Blackbulls Gifu, HC Nagoya, Mie Violet Iris, Osaka Lovvits, Izumi Maple Reds, Omron and Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing.
A statement released by the JHL said they would “…take certain measures to prevent coronavirus infection this season depending on each situation,” and spectators could be present at some matches this new season, with each game being assessed under four levels according to the JHL New Coronavirus Infectious Diseases Control Guidelines (JHL Protocol):
Level 1: Totally unattended by spectators, so-called ‘remote match’
Level 2: Implementation with a limited number of spectators
Level 3: Implemented without limiting the number of spectators
Level 4: Regularly held as usual, with no limit on the number of spectators and no mandatory temperature measurement.
The statement went on to explain that “…information on the level for each match will be announced on the JHL official website, team sites, and venues as soon as it is decided,” before adding that “in consideration of the spread of new coronavirus infectious diseases, it is possible that the already decided match schedule may be postponed or the venue, match time, or holding level may be changed.”
The JHL also announced that from next season (2021/22), Okinawa Handball Association will enter The Terrace Hotels' ‘La Tiida’ women’s team into the JHL, bringing the league up to 10 teams.
Follow the JHL through their official website at www.jhl.handball.jp.