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Asia Minute: A Different Kind of Baseball Season

Wokandapix / Pixabay
Wokandapix / Pixabay

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer for many and for some, that includes a closer look at baseball season. But in parts of the Asia Pacific, this has been a very different season for fans.

A year ago the only place professional baseball was being played was in Asia. Taiwan started in April 2020.

South Korea got underway the next month—with games broadcast on ESPN to baseball-starved fans in the United States.

Japan’s pro season started in June—while the U.S. major leagues didn’t get underway until late July.

A year later, pro-baseball shows how the pandemic is playing out differently in the United States and parts of Asia.

The games are still on around the world, but attending games in person is another matter.

In the U.S., crowds continue to grow but in baseball’s Asian centers, the movement is going the other way.

A little more than two weeks ago, Taiwan banned all spectators from stadiums.

As coronavirus case numbers climb there, league officials say the restrictions will last at least through the middle of next week.

In Japan, Kyodo News reports ballparks remain closed to fans in all the regions where the government has extended its state of emergency.

South Korea’s professional league is asking the government to increase the number of fans allowed at games. That’s currently limited to 10% of capacity in the Seoul metropolitan area.

The Chosun Ilbo reports clubs need at least 30% attendance to break even.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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