Coronavirus: Stars salute return of baseball in South Korea
- There were five matches staged, all behind closed doors, as the new Korea Baseball Organisation season finally began.
Baseball was staged behind closed doors in South Korea on Tuesday after weeks of uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Korea Baseball Organisation is one of the first major professional competitions to get underway since the COVID-19 crisis took hold.
Five matches were played on a delayed opening day to the season, including an 8-2 defeat for defending champions Doosan Bears against LG Twins in Seoul.
Taking to Instagram after the game, Twins starting pitcher Casey Kelly posted a picture with the caption: "When they tell you it’s opening day! Thankful to be starting the season. Twins fans all over the world #fighting."
In Gwangju, Kiwoom Heroes beat KIA Tigers 11-2, while NC Dinos were 4-0 winners over Samsung Lions in Daegu in a match preceded by a message of thanks to frontline workers broadcast on stadium screens.
Hanwha Eagles won 3-0 at SK Wyverns in Incheon, where the outfield seats were covered with banners showing fans in Wyverns caps and masks.
Lotte Giants were 7-2 winners against KT Wiz after inclement weather caused a further brief suspension to baseball's return in Suwon.
"After all the extra weeks of waiting and a 72 min rain delay today we finally got to play a game that mattered!" pitcher Dan Straily said on Instagram.
With fans not allowed to attend, venues were filled with cardboard cut-outs of spectators all depicted obediently wearing face masks.
Players and coaches all had to pass through strict screening protocols before entering the grounds and all umpires, first-base and third-base coaches must use masks.
The KBO season was suspended in March but South Korea has shown encouraging recent signs of bringing the COVID-19 crisis to heel.
Latest figures from the country showed just three new confirmed cases and two deaths on Tuesday, taking the overall tally to 254 from 10,804 positive tests.
The K League football season is expected to resume on Friday.