Masked fans hopped, sang and shouted cheers in baseball stadiums in South Korea on Sunday as authorities began allowing spectators to return to professional sports during the coronavirus pandemic. After a weekslong delay, South Korea’s 2020 baseball season began in early May without fans in the stands amid a then-slowing virus outbreak in the country. Seats in baseball stadiums had since been filled with cheering banners, dolls or pictures of fans. On Sunday, the Korean Baseball Organization allowed a limited number of fans—or 10% of the stadium capacity—to watch games live, the AP reports. They entered stadiums after their temperatures and smartphone QR codes were checked. During the games, they were required to wear masks and sit at least a seat apart while being prohibited from eating food and drinking alcoholic beverages, in line with the KBO guidelines.
During a game between Doosan Bears and LG Twins at Seoul’s Jamsil baseball stadium, fans wearing team jerseys still shouted their favorite players’ names, raised banners and sang fight songs. Some Bears fans jumped from their seats when Choi Joo-hwan hit a two-run home run in the bottom the 2nd inning. Two of the five games Sunday still continued without fans because they were held in area where stricter social distancing guidelines are in place. Health authorities said Friday that the professional soccer league will also be allowed to have fans back in the stands starting Aug. 1, also at 10% of stadium capacity. South Korean officials plan to allow more fans into baseball and soccer stadiums if they report progress in anti-virus campaigning. South Korea has seen an uptick in new virus cases since it eased its rigid social distancing rules in early May. But the country’s caseload hasn’t exploded like its earlier outbreak in late February and early March.
(Read more South Korea