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(LEAD) Baseball, football fans to be allowed back in stadiums

12:02 July 24, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES slug, headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with decision; ADDS photos)

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- The wait is over for South Korean sports fans.

The government announced on Friday that fans of professional baseball and football will be allowed to attend games as early as Sunday, though on a limited basis.

This file photo from June 28, 2020, shows a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game between the NC Dinos and the Doosan Bears taking place without fans at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and the Korea Professional Football League (K League) opened their seasons in May, with both starts pushed back by over a month due to the coronavirus pandemic, and teams have been playing in front of empty seats.

The government said the KBO will be allowed to open stadium gates starting Sunday, with 10 percent of the seats available for fans. League officials said clubs that are prepared will sell tickets for Sunday's game, while others will join them early next week.

The K League will be able to follow suit on Aug. 1, with the same 10 percent rule in effect to ensure social distancing and prevent COVID-19 infections.

The decision is a welcoming bit of news for sports teams, as they have been stuck in dire financial situations without any gate receipts in 2020. Selling just 10 percent of the seats will be a much-needed relief.

This file photo from May 10, 2020 shows a K League 1 match between Pohang Steelers and Busan IPark being played at an empty Pohang Steel Yard in Pohang, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, with banners showing mask-clad fans covering up seats. (Yonhap)



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