New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Harold Meij spoke about the promotion’s decision to not hold events while COVID-19 continues to be a major threat to society on the morning of May 13th in Eastern Standard Time, “We at New Japan Pro Wrestling know how disappointing it is to have to cancel events, and I would personally like to thank all of the fans for their continued support in these challenging times,” Meij said near the beginning of his address.
“As such, I would like to take this time today to talk to you directly to explain the actions we have taken over the last few months, and to present a roadmap to live events returning,” he continued.
Since February 28th, NJPW has canceled all of their lives events to ensure fans, wrestlers, and staff were not put at undue risk from the novel coronavirus. Instead, the company has put together the New Japan Together programming initiative to present fans with original content during this time. NJPW also led a contingent of wrestling promotions based in Japan to speak with government officials regarding helping ensure wrestlers and staff were paid and provided with adequate COVID-19 testing materials.
“I cannot overstate how painful these steps have been for us and me personally,” Harold Meij continued. “That said there are three reasons New Japan Pro Wrestling has elected to cancel or to postpone so many events, and why we have not yet to date engaged in so-called empty arena matches.”
Meij would then unveil the three reasons for the choices which are likely due to his influence, NJPW Chairmen Naoki Sugabayashi, and Bushiroad Director Takaaki Kidani. The reasons as unveiled in the video are as follows; To protect the health and safety of our wrestlers and staff, Our ability to use venues, and NJPW’s Corporate Social Responsibility.
Meij would elaborate how important Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is to office members of NJPW.
New Japan is an industry leader both in Japan and worldwide, with that position comes a great responsibility. As a global society hold a magnifying glass up to us it behooves New Japan to act to the highest possible ethical standards.
We are currently living under a national state of emergency declared by the Japanese government, and have been strongly advised to exercise the maximum of self-restraint when it comes to our activities and individuals and as a business. To hold even empty arena matches in these circumstances would reflect badly on ourselves and our industry, and we will not trade our reputation as a positive force for social good even in the wake of harsh economic realities.
It is the good will that we have fostered with our audience, our partners, and society that led to Wrestle Kingdom 14 this year becoming a tremendous success, allowing us to continue operating in the black [profitable]. That goodwill must be protected at all costs.
All Elite Wrestling (AEW), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Lucha Libre AAA (AAA) are the current major wrestling promotions around the world that have continued to run empty arena events during the height of COVID-19. Promotions such as IMPACT Wrestling (IMPACT) and other historical promotions in Japan including All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) Pro Wrestling NOAH (NOAH) have also held similar events.WWE has nortoriously released a slew of wrestlers and staff during the lockdown period in the United States.
After thanking the NJPW audience for keeping New Japan World numbers strong, and for buying a good amount of merchandise during the pandemic, Meij laid out the plan for NJPW to return to action.
The first step for NJPW returning to action will indeed be empty arena matches with no fans in attendance, this step will be taken when; and only when the state of emergency restrictions are lifted, the number of new coronavirus infections declines, and when matches can take place in a properly disinfected and safe setting. Once these conditions are met, matches will be held in Japan as well as in our Los Angeles dojo in the United States.
The next step after that will be to begin welcoming fans to attend events. For this step to be taken our wrestlers and staff will undergo rigorous health checks. In addition, fans will be subject to thermographic temperature checks on upon entry, masks will be compulsory, and venues will be thoroughly disinfected and properly ventilated with the elimination of smoking areas; for example, and spaces will be left between the seats to comply with social distancing.
Although this means our venues will be half of their usual capacity at first, we will be taking the absolute maximum of due care to ensure your health and safety, and look forward to welcoming you once again to our matches.
Harold Meij would conclude the address by promising that NJPW will return stronger than ever. The address can be seen in its entirety below.