Since spectators were not allowed to go to the stadium, some clubs tried to ‘fill’ the empty seats in the stands.
On 5/5, the annual Korean professional baseball tournament (KBO League) kicked off with 5 matches between 10 teams, starting at 14h (local time). This season is scheduled to open on March 28 but has been delayed for 5 weeks due to the influence of Covid-19. This is the first year that the KBO League has taken place without a live audience.
During the opening match, which took place at Incheon’s Munhak Baseball Stadium, the SK Wyverns printed a picture of the crowd cheering to cover the corners of the stands, as they hosted the Hanwha Eagles. In another match between KT Wiz and Kiwoom Heroes, the first pitch was not taken directly as usual, but complied with the “social spacing” rule. The girls in the cheerleading group dance before the opening time wearing masks. In addition, a giant led screen playing regulations to keep safe during a pandemic was also shown continuously throughout the match.
KBO League organizers said they still plan to host all 144 matches of the season, from now until October.
This is one of the first major professional sports in the world to return to play between Covid-19. The organizers have implemented a series of measures to keep the stadium safe and require all players and coaches to test their body temperature before playing.
Viewers are banned from going to the field to watch live until the risk of infection in South Korea drops to its lowest level. Players are prohibited from throwing their hands to celebrate, chewing smokeless tobacco, and wearing masks when queuing before the competition. In addition, referees and coaches also must wear masks during the game. If any of the club members are positive for nCoV during the season, the tournament will be suspended for at least three weeks.
In Daegu, the city that was once the focal point of Covid-19 in South Korea, the Samsung Lions home team used a giant led screen to play video messages from players, celebrities and fans to thank the players. Doctors and medical staff have been fighting against the disease.
On the morning of 5/5, South Korea reported 3 new cases, the lowest daily increase since Covid-19 broke out in late February. So far, this East Asian country has recorded 10,804 positive cases with nCoV, of which 254 deaths, 9,283 recovering.