KBO exhibition games to be played behind closed doors
The KBO announced Tuesday that all spring training exhibition games will be held behind closed doors this year as social distancing measures continue due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The KBO said in a press release that the organization's president Jung Ji-taek held talks with the league's 10 clubs and determined that it was safer to continue playing games without spectators during spring training exhibition games.
This year's KBO exhibition games kick off on March 20, with all ten teams playing ten games in ten days.
Under current social distancing guidelines, the KBO is permitted to allow limited numbers of fans into stadiums. The league has chosen to enforce its own, stricter rules to limit the spread of Covid-19 before the regular season begins on April 3.
Last year the KBO was forced to cancel spring training exhibition games completely as the number of coronavirus cases began to rise in Korea's first wave of the virus. The league went on to play a full 144-game season, starting late on May 5.
The 2020 season initially started with teams playing in empty stadiums as social distancing guidelines remained strict. By the summer, some fans were allowed into the stadium at limited capacity with seats separated and eating, drinking and cheering forbidden. The KBO played through the rest of the season with varying numbers of fans allowed into stadiums, dependent on fluctuations in the number of Covid-19 cases at the time.
The KBO will likely follow the official social distancing guidelines once the regular season kicks off on April 3, so assuming cases don't jump up over the next few weeks, a limited numbers of fans are likely to be allowed in stadiums on opening day.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]