SEOUL, June 28 (Yonhap) — South Korea said Sunday that it would allow spectators to attend sports events amid the coronavirus pandemic on condition that strict infection preventive measures are taken.
The entry of fans into sports stadiums will be limited, according to health authorities.
Three professional sports — baseball, football and golf — have been under way in South Korea during the coronavirus pandemic, but they have been all been played without fans in attendance due to lingering infection concerns.
The measure came as baseball clubs are reportedly nearing a breaking point without having had gate revenue since the start of the season on May 5. Some teams have said they may have to take out bank loans to pay player salaries.
The Korea Professional Football League (K League) opened its season on May 8, and its clubs have also been struggling financially. The Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) resumed its season in May and has so far hosted five tournaments without fans.
In recent days, there has been growing discontent among sports fans who argue that it made no sense for water parks and beaches to open while sports stadiums remained closed, even though teams all vowed to implement stringent quarantine and distancing measures.
The KBO had hoped to open the gates by early June, but talks were shelved in late May amid a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in and around Seoul.
The country eased strict social distancing in early May, with school reopenings starting in mid-May. But sporadic cluster infections tied to religious gatherings, a large distribution center and other facilities have put strain the country’s efforts to contain local transmission of COVID-19.