The Yomiuri Giants said Tuesday their two preseason games against Central League rival Yakult Swallows on the weekend will be played behind closed doors at Tokyo Dome amid the spread of a new coronavirus.

The rest of the schedule will be discussed in the run-up to the new season that will start March 20, the baseball team said, adding it would be the first time for Yomiuri, launched in 1934, to host games in an empty stadium.

Tokyo Dome is the only baseball venue in Japan with an air-supported roof that requires constant ventilation to maintain the structure.

The stadium has a high-quality air circulation system, but playing without the presence of fans is judged to be "the best option" as society has been calling for minimizing risks of further infection, the venue operator said.

Japan's 12 pro baseball clubs have already confirmed they will prohibit mass balloon launches by fans at their games over mounting concern about the current coronavirus outbreak.

Related coverage:

Overreliance on hand sanitizers may increase risk of coronavirus infection

Football: J-League postpones matches until March 15 due to coronavirus

ANA to halt all flights from Osaka to China in March