South Korea targets early May for baseball restart


SEOUL, South Korea — With new cases of the coronavirus falling in South Korea, the country’s baseball league is targeting an early May restart with teams ready to play preseason exhibition games as early as April 21.

On Wednesday, the country recorded 53 new infections, the third consecutive day that has seen new cases around the 50-mark. The downward trend from a Feb. 29 peak of 900 is increasing the chances of the 10-team Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League, not only starting in May but playing a full 144-game season.

“If the situation continues to improve from here and on, teams will start facing each other in preseason games beginning on April 21, and we should be able to get the regular season started in early May,” KBO secretary general Ryu Dae-hwan said after a meeting with club general managers in Seoul.

“Obviously, these scenarios will be feasible only if we have dramatically fewer confirmed cases in the coming days.”

The league was scheduled to start regular-season play on March 28.

“The recent downward trend has obviously impacted our discussions,” Ryu said “As long as we can start the season in early May, we’ll be able to finish everything by the end of November.”

On Saturday, the government extended its social distancing campaign, which includes the closure of schools, by two weeks until April 19 and baseball is prepared to wait and see what happens for as long as necessary.

“If we see an increase in cases a couple of days leading up to April 21, we’ll postpone the preseason,” Ryu said. “We may even make that call on the eve of the first games.”

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