Taiwan's CPBL opens stadiums to fans, games sold out as another milestone is passed

Taiwan's CPBL opens stadiums to fans, games sold out as another milestone is passed
09/05/2020
"There was definitely something missing in our lives when we were only able to watch the games on TV during the past month," one fan who attended the game said.

After becoming the first sports league in the world to open amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- initially behind closed doors -- the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) passed another milestone as the league welcomed fans back to ballparks Friday night (8 May).

The Fubon Guardians faced the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions at Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium, while the Rakuten Monkeys visited the CTBC Brothers at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, both in front a sold out crowd of 1,000 fans -- the maximum spectators allowed under current Taiwanese guidelines.

Fans are required to wear their face masks at all times and follow a strict seating assignment. All concession stands in the stadiums are closed as food is banned. Only water and medicine are allowed.

To mark the special occasion, the Fubon Guardians Baseball Club presented a certificate of “Your First Game” to all their fans in attendance.

A Fubon Guardian fan said: “There was definitely something missing in our lives when we were only able to watch the games on TV during the past month. Although there are many regulations, and there is only 1,000 of us allowed, we will certainly accept the inconvenience since this is a special time. I feel so fortunate that we are able to watch the game in person now.”

Dr Clock Chen, the government official who is mostly responsible for the solid achievement in pandemic prevention, was honoured as the "MVP of pandemic prevention” and wore a Guardians jersey with number 0 on the back. His uniform number was meant to state the number of “zero confirmed cases” as a collective effort from all citizens.

“Watching baseball games is the best way to start our new lives in the post-pandemic era,” Chen said. "There has not been a new local confirmed case of coronavirus infection in 26 consecutive days in Taiwan."

Friday night's CPBL games also generated overwhelming attention from media worldwide. More than 13 international media outlets from Asia, America and Europe registered with the league to cover the games, as more than 150 media representatives were in Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium to witness the first 2020 sports event with fans.

Both home teams won. The Guardians defeated the Lions, 7-6, while the Brothers beat the Monkeys, 6-4. thus winning the first head to head of the 2020 season.

CPBL games are streamed on Twitter with an English commentary to reach a worldwide audience for the first time in the 31-year history of the league. International fans can connect by following @elevensportsTW, @fubonguardians and @CTBC_Brothers.