Kazuchika Okada: Wrestling Can Still Thrive In 2020 Despite COVID-19

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Kazuchika Okada: Wrestling Can Still Thrive In 2020 Despite COVID-19

kazuchika okada

Photo by New Japan Pro-Wrestling/Getty Images

Kazuchika Okada recently spoke with NJPW’s official website regarding the Coronavirus outbreak, empty arena events, and his desires to still have a strong 2020 in wrestling in spite of all that has happened at the beginning of the year.

RELATED: NJPW Cancels Two More Upcoming Events Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

You can see some highlights below.

Kazuchika Okada On The Coronavirus Stopping Sports:

It’s hard to explain. We’re not entirely off, right? We don’t have matches- I’m not sure whether the right word is cancellation or postponement- but it’s not a case of ‘right, time to go on holiday!’. I have to stay in top shape, but it’s hard to exactly put my finger on what it is I should be doing. At any rate, just standing in that Dojo ring, it hits you: this is home. It’s not just us, of course. It’s baseball, it’s soccer, it’s concerts. In the situation we’re in, we have to cancel or postpone anything that has people gathering in large numbers, and there’s nothing we can do about that. We can’t just keep going because people seem healthy enough, because we could end up spreading this without knowing it. If one of our wrestlers gets it, they could carry it with them without even knowing. We kind of have to accept this for what it is, but we have to be ready for when we come back, to really show the power that professional wrestling has again.

Kazuchika Okada On Empty Arena Shows:

Hmm. It’s not that we can’t do it. But wrestling involves a lot of punishment. A lot of bumps, a lot of moves you have to take from opponents. To not have that encouragement of a live crowd, I’m not sure how I’d deal with that. If someone takes a hell of a chop, say. You feel and hear that contact but there’s no reaction, no encouragement. I’m not sure in an empty environment that a wrestler can give all they have, and give any audience something they’d be happy with. I know the audience reaction is incredibly important to me. It’s a reaction from a live crowd that makes me know whether I’m having a good match.

Kazuchika Okada Urges Fans To Save Up Their Energy For NJPW’s Return:

Just save all that emotion up. It’s not like we’re going away forever. Not just the fans, but the wrestlers, the staff, all of us have a lot of pent up tension, and when the time’s right I want us all to release that, all at once. I think in a way, we can make 2020 a banner year for pro-wrestling, still.

Read the full first half of the interview here.

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