Taiwan pro baseball games to admit 1,000 fans beginning Friday

CPBL's opening game on April 12.

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s professional baseball league, which has played in empty stadiums since the beginning of the season, will open its games to 1,000 fans starting Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Wednesday.

CECC chief Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the CECC approved the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s (CPBL’s) proposal to admit up to 1,000 fans as part of measures it is taking to relax social distancing restrictions as the number of COVID-19 cases dwindles.

CPBL Secretary-General Feng Sheng-xian (馮勝賢) thanked the CECC for its decision and said the league has prepared detailed epidemic prevention measures for fan attendance at games.

Feng said the presence of fans will be a major morale boost for the CPBL, which has played more than 20 games without fans since its first game of the season at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on April 12.

The Fubon Guardians’ mascots and cheerleaders in front of empty stands at a home game in New Taipei April 25.

Two games are scheduled for May 8. The Fubon Guardians will host the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions at Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei, and the CTBC Brothers will host the Rakuten Monkeys in Taichung.

The two home teams said they will take several measures to keep fans safe, including requiring them to stay in their designated seats and wearing face masks, and maintaining a safe distance between them.

The CPBL gained international attention as the first professional baseball league in the world to start its season this year.

Korea’s professional baseball league opened its season Tuesday, but its games are also being held in empty stadiums.

Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said Wednesday that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) congratulated the CPBL for becoming the first professional baseball league in the world to allow fans to attend games.

Chang said, however, that the president will not be able to accept the CPBL’s invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Friday’s game.

President Tsai Ing-Wen holds a card that says “To medical workers, you are my MVP.” / Photo courtesy of the CPBL