NJPW President Ohbari Makes Two Requests Regarding COVID Restrictions

With some exceptions, it has been a long two years without crowd noise for wrestling shows in Japan. Whether it was an event put on by New Japan Pro Wrestling, World Wonder Ring Stardom, All Japan-Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling NOAH, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, or whoever you want to name, the events have been held in front of crowds restricted to clapping only. And while that remains the case to date, attempts are being made to get crowds cheering in Japan again.

Along with representatives of other wrestling and MMA promotions in Japan, New Japan President Takami Ohbari spoke at a meeting of the Bipartisan Parliamentary Union for the Promotion of Martial Arts committee, discussing COVID-19 restrictions for events in Japan. At the meeting, Ohbari had a question and two requests for the committee's chairman, Koichi Hagiuda.

Ohbari's question concerned the definition of loudness for an event. His requests were even more ambitious, with the first asking for the ban on loud voices to be lifted at events with 100% capacity. His second request asked for local governments and their venues to relax restrictions on events. The New Japan President also provided evidence, taken from a study published in June, that COVID-19 transmission odds were low if fans were to cheer in masks, in an attempt to prove that cheering could be feasible.

The requests from Ohbari come when several promotions in Japan, including New Japan, are gearing up for big shows come 2023. NOAH will be holding shows in January featuring WWE star Shinsuke Nakamura and AEW stars Sting and Darby Allin, who will be participating in the final matches of the Great Muta. Meanwhile, New Japan will be holding Wrestle Kingdom 17, as always, on January 4, with a large crowd expected for the Tokyo Dome.