KBO to discuss possible suspension of season following multiple COVID-19 cases

SEOUL-- The South Korean professional baseball league will convene an emergency meeting with club executives Sunday to discuss a possible suspension of the ongoing season, in light of multiple coronavirus cases involving two clubs, industry sources said.

According to the sources, the 10 clubs in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) will be represented by their general managers in the meeting. Those currently in the greater Seoul area for weekend games will visit the KBO office in southern Seoul in person, while those outside the area for games will join them online.

The KBO has had to cancel a handful of games over the past two days due to COVID-19 cases. Through Saturday, three members of the NC Dinos and two from the Doosan Bears had tested positive for the virus, forcing three out of five games scheduled for that day to be canceled.

Under its health and safety protocols, the KBO can't unilaterally suspend the season based on a relatively small number of COVID-19 cases. The league allows teams with infected players to add replacements without dropping active players to make room for them.

But in case of a massive outbreak, the league reserves the right to call a meeting with club representatives and discuss possibly putting the season on hold.

The suspension could last as long as three weeks: two weeks for isolation of healthy members of clubs and one week for teams to practice before returning to action.

The KBO is scheduled to press pause for an Olympic break from July 19 to Aug. 9. If the KBO decided to put the season on hold immediately, teams will then only miss one week of actual play.

On Saturday alone, the game between the Dinos and Kiwoom Heroes, and another between the Bears and the LG Twins had to be canceled. Then a third game, between the Kia Tigers and the KT Wiz, was also scrapped as the entire Tigers team received their tests. The Tigers had played the Bears on July 2 and last Sunday.

The rest of the Dinos are being isolated in their road hotel and the Bears' players and staff who have tested negative are staying home.

On Friday, two members of the Dinos tested positive for COVID-19, and the Dinos-Heroes game got wiped out. The Twins-Bears game was canceled out of precaution because the Bears had played the Dinos in Seoul on Tuesday and Wednesday. The entire Bears team received COVID-19 tests Friday, and two results came back positive, while one additional Dinos player got a positive result in a teamwide retest.

The Dinos received their initial tests Thursday after a guest at a Seoul hotel the team had stayed in for the road trip had been infected.

Another club, the Hanwha Eagles, had also stayed at the same hotel on the previous weekend, but their players and staff all tested negative. The Eagles played both Friday and Saturday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency