CECC mulls 1,000 fans at pro baseball league games

Taiwan's professional baseball league, in which teams are currently playing behind closed-doors due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, has received approval for 200 fans per game. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s professional baseball league, in which teams are currently playing behind closed-doors due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, has received approval for 200 fans per game but is urging the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to approve 1,000 fans per game, the league’s head said Tuesday.

Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) Commissioner John Wu (吳志揚) made the comment after teleconferencing with team representatives over the matter in response to an earlier announcement from the CECC that it would allow fan attendance at CPBL games.

According to Wu, the league originally asked for a maximum 500 people to attend each game.

Deducting players, coaches, cheerleaders of both teams as well as CPBL staffers, referees, media members and broadcasting crew, who are already allowed to attend, Wu said the league first asked for 200 fans to be able to buy tickets to watch CPBL games.

The 200-fan-attendance proposal has been approved by the CECC and will hopefully start May 8, the CPBL chief said, adding that the league is now seeking to raise maximum attendance to 1,000 fans per game.

CPBL Commissioner John Wu

Wu said the league hopes to hold its first game with fans in attendance this Friday, ahead of Mother’s Day on Sunday, but its proposals have to be approved by the CECC.

The CPBL head pledged that each of the four teams will soon propose concrete pandemic prevention measures to be enforced during games, including asking fans to remain in their designated seats; maintaining a safe distance between fans; and asking that all fans wear face masks at all times.

Central and local pandemic control specialists will also be invited to attend games, he added.

Meanwhile, CECC Deputy Commander Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) said the center expects to approve the CPBL proposal for a maximum of 1,000 fans per game.

Currently two games are scheduled for May 8, including one at Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei between home team Fubon Guardians and visitors Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions. The other game is in Taichung with home team CTBC Brothers facing Rakuten Monkeys.

The CPBL held the first game of its 31st season at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on April 12, making it the first professional baseball league in the world to start its season this year.

The CPBL has played 28 regular season games behind closed-doors due to social distancing rules announced in March by the CECC to prevent any further spread of the virus.

The CECC said last week that it expects to gradually loosen restrictions, as Taiwan’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been relatively successful.