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Japanese leagues to play spring training games in empty ballparks over coronavirus fears

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Nippon Professional Baseball — the Japanese major league — announced on Wednesday that it will hold all of its remaining spring training games in empty ballparks due to fears that fans might spread the coronavirus. The following day the Korean Baseball Organization went even further, cancelling the remainder of the KBO League’s spring training games in their entirety over coronavirus fears.

NPB’s regular season opens on March 20. The league is in wait-and-see mode regarding whether the regular season will be similarly impacted. The KBO League regular season is set to begin on March 28. The KBO will hold an emergency meeting of its executive committee next Tuesday to discuss potential changes to the regular season schedule. Yesterday Japan closed schools across the country due to the outbreak. It’s Rugby Union league recently cancelled over a dozen matches.

The 2020 regular season of both leagues was already scheduled to be halted during the summer for Olympics, which takes place in Tokyo. Yesterday, by the way, the organizers of the Olympic games pushed back on what they called mere “speculation” that the coronavirus epidemic could lead to their cancellation.

So yeah, things are going sideways out there right now. Please keep your head. And please wash your hands.

Mike Tirico to host NBC Sports’ new daily sports talk show ‘Lunch Talk Live’

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NBC Sports’ new daily sports talk show, Lunch Talk Live, debuts this Monday, April 6, at Noon ET on NBCSN, featuring host Mike Tirico joined by special guests, including current and former athletes, NBC Sports’ lineup of on-air commentators, and other prominent voices and figures within sports and media.

Lunch Talk Live focuses on the current state of the sports world and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, providing guests with a platform to discuss the state of sports, voice their personal stories and detail how they are adapting their daily lives during this challenging time.

“In these challenging times, we are all missing sports and the people who make sports memories,” said Tirico. “Hopefully, we can bring a midday connection with some of them to help fill the void.”

Sam Flood, NBC Sports Executive Producer & President of Production, said, “We’re excited to bring viewers fresh programming every day with unique, topical conversations from prominent individuals in all corners of sports. This will be a daily lunch date to share sports and stories we miss during these unique times.”

The hour-long show will air weekdays at Noon ET on NBCSN and stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Select content and interviews will additionally be hosted on NBC Sports’ YouTube channel and social media platforms.

Tirico will host Lunch Talk Live episodes remotely, beginning this Monday.