Baseball fans in South Korea back in stands amid COVID-19

A fan wearing a face maska cheers during the KBO league game between Doosan Bears and LG Twins in Seoul on Sunday, July 27, 2020. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 26 July 2020

Baseball fans in South Korea back in stands amid COVID-19

  • Korean Baseball Organization allows a limited number of fans, or 10 percent of the stadium capacity, to watch games live

SEOUL: Masked fans hopped, sang and shouted cheers in baseball stadiums in South Korea on Sunday as authorities began allowing spectators to return to professional sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After a weeks-long delay, South Korea’s 2020 baseball season began in early May without fans in the stands amid a then-slowing virus outbreak in the country. Seats in baseball stadiums had since been filled with cheering banners, dolls or pictures of fans.
On Sunday, the Korean Baseball Organization allowed a limited number of fans, or 10 percent of the stadium capacity, to watch games live. They entered stadiums after their temperatures and smartphone QR codes were checked. During the games, they were required to wear masks and sit at least a seat apart while being banned from eating food and drinking any alcoholic beverages in line with the KBO guidelines.
During a game between Doosan Bears and LG Twins at Seoul’s Jamsil baseball stadium, fans wearing the teams’ jerseys still shouted their favorite players’ names, raised banners and sang fight songs. Some Bears fans jumped from their seats when Choi Joo-hwan hit a two-run home run at the bottom the 2nd inning.
Two of the five baseball games Sunday still continued without fans because they were held in area where stricter social distancing guidelines are in place.
Health authorities said Friday that the professional soccer league will also be allowed to have fans back in the stands from Aug. 1, and also starting with 10 percent of the stadium capacity. Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho said that professional golf tournaments will still continue without galleries until at least late August.
South Korean officials plan to allow more fans into baseball and football stadiums if they report progress in anti-virus campaigning.
South Korea has seen an uptick in new virus cases since it eased its rigid social distancing rules in early May. But the country’s caseload hasn’t exploded like its earlier outbreak in late February and early March, when it recorded hundreds of new cases every day.
Earlier Sunday, South Korea reported 58 additional cases of the coronavirus over the past 24-hour period, a day after it reported 100-plus for the first time in nearly four months.


Grizzlies roll past Bucks 119-106, reach West play-in round

Updated 14 August 2020

Grizzlies roll past Bucks 119-106, reach West play-in round

  • The Grizzlies (34-39) tied for ninth place in the Western Conference with Phoenix, but advances to the play-in round because it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Phoenix

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: With their season on the line, Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant teamed up to make history and keep the Memphis Grizzlies’ playoff hopes alive.
Valanciunas and Moranth had triple-doubles, Dillon Brooks scored 31 points and the Grizzlies beat the Milwaukee Bucks 119-106 on Thursday to wrap up a spot in the play-in tournament that will determine the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
This marked the first time in franchise history that two Grizzlies had triple-doubles in a game. The team effort helped the Grizzlies bounce back after losing six of their first seven games since the NBA returned from a 4 1/2-month layoff.
“I’m happy that we responded,” said Valanciunas, who had 26 points, 19 rebounds and 12 assists. “We showed character. We’re not going home. We’re going to fight until the last second.”
Dillon Brooks added 31 points as Memphis never trailed while capitalizing on the fact Milwaukee was missing Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reigning MVP was serving a one-game suspension after head-butting Moritz Wagner in a 126-113 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies (34-39) tied for ninth place in the Western Conference with Phoenix, which beat Dallas 128-102 on Thursday. Memphis advances to the play-in round because it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Phoenix.
Memphis now faces Portland (35-39), which earned a spot in the play-in round by edging the Brooklyn Nets 134-133 on Thursday night.
As the No. 9 team, Memphis must beat Portland two straight times to advance to face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
Memphis hasn’t been to the playoffs the last two years after making seven straight postseason appearances from 2011-17.
“It’s great to see in a meaningful game that our guys just stuck with it,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We’re going to need that on Saturday — even more and more and better and better.”
Valanciunas earned the game ball after getting his first double-double in his 559th career NBA game. The 28-year-old Valanciunas’ previous career high in assists was five.
“I’m definitely going to keep that ball for a long time to show my kids that Daddy did it,” Valanciunas said.
Morant had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
This marked the first time two teammates posted triple-doubles in the same game since Miami’s Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler did it Dec. 10 in a 135-121 overtime victory over Atlanta. Valanciunas and Morant are the 12th pair of teammates to post triple-doubles in the same game, including the postseason.
Brook Lopez scored 19 to lead five Bucks in double figures. Frank Mason had 18, Donte DiVincenzo collected 17, Khris Middleton 14 and D.J. Wilson 12.
This game was meaningless for the Bucks, who already had clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for a second straight season. But it meant everything for the Grizzlies and Jenkins, who was an assistant on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s staff last season and previously worked for him in Atlanta.
It was quickly apparent which of these two teams had the most incentive. Memphis led by as many as 23.
“You’d have to be head in the sand really deep to not understand everything that was at stake today,” Budenholzer said. “Taylor and his group have done such a great job this year. They earned it. They played well today. They were sharp. Guys really stepped up.”
TIP-INS
Bucks: Starting guard Wesley Matthews missed a second straight game with a sore right adductor. Budenholzer remains confident that Matthews will be ready for the playoffs. “We feel like everything’s in a reasonably good place,” Budenholzer said before the game. “Probably just smartest not to push it today, give him another day or two. We don’t expect it to linger or be a problem past today.”
Grizzlies: Morant ended the regular season averaging 17.8 points and 7.3 assists. The only rookies in NBA history to average at least 17 points and seven assists are Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Magic Johnson (1979-80), Isiah Thomas (1981-82), Damon Stoudamire (1995-96), Allen Iverson (1996-97) and Trae Young (2018-19). ... Valanciunas has collected at least 10 rebounds in seven straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA. ... Memphis was the designated home team. Former Grizzlies Tony Allen and Zach Randolph were included among the team’s “virtual fans” in the arena.
MIDDLETON JUST SHY OF 50-40-90
Middleton shot 5 of 13 and was just shy of becoming the ninth NBA player to finish a season shooting at least 50% from the floor, 40% from 3-point range and 90% from the foul line. He ended up shooting 49.7% on field-goal attempts, 41.5% on 3-pointers and 91.6% on free throws.
UP NEXT
The Bucks will face the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs starting Tuesday. The Bucks swept four regular-season meetings with Orlando.
The Grizzlies move on to the West’s play-in tournament.
___
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports