* League suspended in Feb
* Matches held in empty stadiums
* Lower tiers to start earlier (Adds detail)
TOKYO, May 29 (Reuters) - The J.League announced on Friday that its top division would restart on July 4 following an approximately four month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executives from Japan’s top soccer clubs voted to resume the season after restrictions were lifted across the country this week.
Each team had only played one league match when the J.League was suspended on Feb. 26.
Due to the restrictions still in place to prevent the further spread of the virus, the matches will initially be played in empty stadiums without fans.
In March, the J.League announced that there would be no relegation this season but that if 75% of the campaign is completed then the top two teams in the second and third tiers will automatically be promoted.
The start date was approved after a panel of medical experts told J.League and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) officials that it was possible to resume play from mid-June.
NPB announced earlier in the week that their season, which was postponed without a ball being thrown, will begin on June 19, also without fans.
The J.League has decided to give its players, some of whom returned to training in the last few days, five weeks to rebuild their conditioning ahead of the restart.
The full fixture list will be announced on June 15, with officials saying that they intend for all the remaining games to be played.
Japan’s second tier, J.2, will restart one week earlier on June 27, along with the start of the J.3 season, which hadn’t begun when the virus first struck. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant Editing by Christian Radnedge)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.