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Post COVID-19 Era: Korean Baseball Season Opens May 5th Updated: 2020-05-04 15:35:37 KST

One of the many facets of life put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic are, to the anguish of many fans, sports.
Well, that's no longer the case here in South Korea.
After too many dark weeks, long after they had shuttered spring training sites, and then as opening day passed and all of April did too in one of the clearest signs that life here in South Korea may slowly be returning to how we had known of it pre-COVID-19 pandemic times, the day has come for baseball in Korea.
On Tuesday, the 5th - Children's Day and a public holiday in this country, the 10-team Korean Baseball Organization is opening with five games in five stadiums nationwide.
Batter up. It's baseball time for all socially distanced, sports-starved fans out there.
Live in the studio with me sports commentator Daniel Kim to my right and to my left Jeeho Yoo, sports writer at Yonhap News.
Great to have you both on the program.

So, after weeks of no sports to keep us distracted from the coronavirus, the KBO is one of the first leagues to start the 2020 season. I'm sure it's heavenly news for all the baseball fans out there. But, like everything else these days, it can't be the same as pre-COVID-19 days.
The games will be played in empty stadiums, but whatelse will be different about this season?

The empty stadium - I mean, how can talk about Korean baseball without the boisterous fans, the cheers, the chants?. lack of off-days, the players not being able to high-five, the season that will be played into November and post-season beyond that. How do you expect these factors to affect players' performance?

Well, why don't we find out how the teams are gearing up for the big opening day tomorrow.
Joining us live from South Korea's southeastern city of Busan, home to Lotte Giants is Sungmin Kim.
Hi Sungmin, thanks for linking up with us.

After a more than month-long delay, what's the overall atmosphere like out on the field? Are players excited, relieved, worried to be starting the new season in the COVID-19 pandemic?
What about the coaches and managers?

(With the delay of over a month, how is the physical condition of the players? Have they been training during the delay period?
Has COVID-19 put any restraints on their training?)

The season is kicking off with no fans in the stands. Lotte Giants is especially known for their fervor cheering. Will the silence in the stadium affect players' performance?

Sungmin Kim, Associate at the R&D Department for Lotte Giants, thanks for speaking with us tonight and best of luck to you throughout this season.

There were reports that ESPN was negotiating a deal to broadcast the games - meaning there could be Korean baseball on TV for American audiences.
Do we have any updates? I mean, the season starts tomorrow so, if it were to happen, I'm thinking the deal should have been inked by now.

ESPN wanted rights to broadcast South Korean professional baseball games for FREE How was this interpreted by KBO?

Baseball stadiums will gradually increase stadium capacity open for fans, but it is inevitable that all KBO teams will take a financial hit - from tickets and merchandise sales.
How are the teams taking care of its finances? How are they paying the players, for instance?

A large part of the industry's profits will have to depend on its games being televised.
What measures is KBO having to take to handle its COVID-19 situation?

Again, this will be another challenge.
Navigating every single day, surviving every game without any COVID-19 infections will require uncommon vigilance by the players, managers, coaches, by the fans.
And, we know the other leagues around the world will be watching, learning and taking notes to learn, adopt, and adapt from the KBO experience.
We'll be looking to you two for our dose of Korean baseball for the next couple of months.
Yoo Jeeho of Yonhap News, Daniel Kim, DKTV - thank you both for a wonderful discussion tonight. We appreciate it.

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