Sporting events across South Korea return to normalcy after COVID chaos!

South Korea's professional sport returned to action after the coronavirus shutdown with the opening of a new baseball season Tuesday, while football and golf will soon follow suit in a ray of hope for suspended competitions worldwide.

Measures taken

At the stadium, strict health checks and hygiene measures were enforced.

Players must have their temperature checked twice before games, with face masks to be worn in all areas except the playing field and the dugouts, according to the KBO.

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ESPN to telecast it

ESPN announced it will show six KBO League games per week to fans pining for live baseball in the US, while broadcasters in 10 foreign territories have snapped up rights to air K-League matches.

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Spitting prohibited

Players have also been asked not to shake hands or exchange high-fives, while spitting is prohibited -- putting a new complexion on what is South Korea's most popular spectator sport.

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Fans not allowed yet!

Fans were not allowed in when any of Tuesday's five opening Korean Baseball Organisation (KBO) matches saw the first pitches thrown, a marked contrast from the packed stadiums of previous years when fans sang and cheered relentlessly no matter the score.

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'Even if we are apart, we are TWINS'

Banners carrying messages for victory were also put up at the LG Twins club's Jamsil derby in Seoul, saying: "Even if we are apart, we are TWINS."

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'Masked fans' across the stadium

Instead, banners with photos of masked fans stretched across the empty bleachers at the Incheon-based SK Wyverns club's Munhak Baseball Stadium.

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'Doesn't feel like season-opener'

Fans were divided over the unprecedented format.

"Baseball is finally back! But I wonder when I can actually go to the stadium," tweeted one fan.

Another online user said: "This doesn't feel like the opening of a season at all. I'm watching baseball from home, hugging a pillow."

(Photograph:AFP)