Taiwan rescinds coronavirus sports cancellations with new baseball season

TAICHUNG Taiwan got into a new baseball season on Sunday, with a team planning to place robot mannequins at their stands without crowds, as the island broke the global trend of eliminating sporting events during the coronavirus .

Despite its proximity and trade links with China, Taiwan has so far managed to keep a lid on the pandemic now sweeping the globe.

It enacted travel bans soon after the virus came out publicly and rolled out extensive testing, contact tracing, and quarantine.

About 100 days after the crisis, he has fewer than 400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and only six deaths with largely open schools, offices, restaurants, and bars.

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Large gatherings like religious festivals have been ruled out.

But on Sunday the island's 31st baseball season got underway with Chinatrust Brothers taking on the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions in Taichung.

The games are played in empty stadiums and fans are told to stay away. But players are still traveling around the island for matches that are streamed live.

On Saturday, Rakuten Monkeys revealed robotic mannequins and cardboard cutouts of fans dressed in the colors and caps of their home at their stadium in northern Taoyuan County.

Some of the robots even hit drums from the empty stands.

The mechanical substitutes were ready to cheer Rakuten against Chinatrust Brothers for what would have been the first game of the season on Saturday, but heavy rain led to its cancellation.

Baseball is the most popular sport in Taiwan with some 240 games scheduled for the coming season.

"We are the first pro- baseball league to start playing in the world" during the pandemic , the league said in a statement.

We welcome everyone to follow the new 2020 season and relax from their tense lives due to the outbreak.

Unlike so many other places, Taiwan 's national basketball and football leagues have also continued to play, albeit behind closed doors.

Some fans have expressed concern for the safety of those on the field.

"How can the players keep social distancing? What can we do in the event of cluster infections? Please stop this farce," read one post on the baseball league's Facebook page.

Why do you keep celebrating games without an audience? US Major League Baseball USA and even the Olympics have been postponed, read another.

Others were happy that the games can continue even in closed stadiums.

"It's great we have baseball games to watch," read one social media comment.

"We can probably set a precedent for professional baseball leagues abroad," said another.