The South Korean professional football league and the country’s top tier of baseball will open their gates to fans this week following the recent easing of social distancing restrictions in the country.
The government announced on Sunday that teams would be allowed to have crowds of up to 30 per cent of seating capacity. However, the K League said teams will stick to a 25 per cent capacity, while Korean Baseball Organisation (KBO) teams will keep their limit at 20 per cent.
The KBO will become the first of the major sports leagues in South Korea to decide on a reopening schedule, with fans set to start being admitted on Tuesday.
The regular season is scheduled to wrap up on October 30, with the postseason to follow at the beginning of November.
The K League 1 match between Gangwon FC and Incheon United will kick things off on Friday, with fans required to wear masks, undergo temperature checks, and fill out a digital entry log with a QR code.
The K League 1 season was cut from 38 matches to 27 matches, as its start was pushed back by over two months due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed 5,500 fans to the 68,400-capacity Heinz Stadium for the first time this season.
Guidelines from the Steelers required face masks and social distancing throughout the event, and all ticket holders within a group had to sit together.
In addition, 16,000 fans were allowed to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Las Vegas Raiders at the 76,416-capacity Arrowhead Stadium.
Elsewhere, league officials announced that Monday’s game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots was postponed following a bout of COVID-19.
The game has been delayed after the Patriots reported a positive coronavirus test on Sunday, leaving both teams with a week 5 bye.
The league said in a statement: “Details on a new game date and time will be announced shortly. This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts.”
Some 4,600 people attended the international friendly between Belgium and Ivory Coast at the 50,000-capacity King Baudouin Stadium late last week, despite 11,000 tickets being made available for the game.
The game therefore saw only around 40 per cent of the seats that could have been used actually occupied.
It was also reported by Sky News that 6,200 of the 11,000 tickets were sold, though many of those fans did not show up.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland welcomed 600 fans at Windsor Park on Sunday for their defeat against Austria in the UEFA Nations League.
The game marks the first international football match to welcome fans back to a UK ground after COVID-19 brought football to a stand still.
In addition, some 30,000 fans attended New Zealand’s All Blacks and Australia’s Wallabies on Sunday for the first rugby Test match since COVID-19 postponed fixtures in March.
New Zealand currently has zero community cases of Covid-19 and no restrictions on mass gatherings, allowing the event in Wellington to go ahead without requiring fans to wear face masks.
Health officials said before the game that hand sanitiser would be provided, and they urged fans to register their attendance on contacting tracing apps and stay home if sick.
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