New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced new rules regarding crowd noise and fan interaction at future live shows.
The company has not allowed fans to cheer at shows since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, instead asking them to simply clap when they want to express their enjoyment.
In September 2022 this policy was slightly tweaked, with fans able to cheer at reduced-capacity shows, but not full-capacity ones.
In early December, NJPW President Takami Ohmari requested that the ban be lifted.
In the December 15 press conference for Wrestle Kingdom 17, Ohbari announced that NJPW can now run events at 100% capacity for non-cheering crowds at 50% for cheering crowds.
He also said that the new guidelines had been developed following discussions with the government’s infectious disease panel and the Japan Sports Authority.
NJPW shared Ohbari’s press conference comments on Twitter:
“When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, several events were cancelled. In June of that year, we resumed matches with no fans in attendance, before bringing fans back in July.
“After two and a half years, we now have 100% capacity for non cheering crowds, and 50% for cheering crowds.
“We sincerely thank all of our fans for adhering to rules and guidelines during this period.
“The truth is that professional wrestling is best enjoyed with a full crowd, letting out their voices in support of their favourites, and booing rule breakers.”
Ohbari also said 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.
He also 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 allow.
Check out the full card for the January 4, 2023 Wrestle Kingdom 17 event, set to feature stars from both WWE and AEW, right here.
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