Taiwan became the first country worldwide to kick off the baseball season on Sunday, following the outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus, as new cases of the pandemic begin to plateau.
The country’s baseball league, the Chinese Professional Baseball League (Taiwan’s formal name is the Republic of China), was set to begin March 14, but was forced to reschedule its opener to April 11 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It was then pushed forward by another day because of heavy rain.
Sunday’s match, played behind closed doors, saw Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions beat the Chinatrust Brothers 4-1 in an 11-inning game that lasted over four and a half hours. Despite the lack of fans, organizers did place robot fans around the stadium, including some that beat drums to add a greater sense of atmosphere to the event.
Nothing can stop Taiwanese cheering up for #BASEBALL#StayHome and watch #CPBL #OpeningDay #CTBros#RakutenMonkeys pic.twitter.com/yRbSXdeRvT
— CPBL 中華職棒 (@CPBL) April 11, 2020
The World Baseball Softball Confederation’s Asia correspondent, Richard Wang, told Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) that the start of the new season is a testament to the country’s efforts fighting the pandemic. As of Tuesday afternoon, health authorities reported just 393 cases of the virus and six deaths, an extraordinarily low figure given its proximity and cultural links to China where the outbreak began.
“We are very lucky that Taiwan can have a baseball season, and at the same time, it also reflects the solid achievements by the government in coronavirus prevention,” he said. “At the same time, we can encourage and motivate the world to believe that problems can be overcome.”
First professional game in Taiwan. #CPBL No fans. But at least they made enough progress to return. This is first HR anywhere in 2020. pic.twitter.com/mzi3sZN21A
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) April 13, 2020
Wang added that although Taiwanese baseball does not have as long a history as the United States, it still provides sports-starved fans the opportunity to enjoy some quality baseball. With the 2020 season now underway, the league is set to run until October 14 with a total of 240 games between the league’s five teams.
Despite their efforts successfully fighting off the virus, Taiwan continues to be excluded from the World Health Organization (WHO) at the demand of Beijing. Since the virus’s outbreak in January, the WHO has repeatedly parroted propaganda deflecting blame from China on to the rest of the world.
Last Thursday, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Thursday denounced the WHO as “irresponsible” for limiting Taiwan’s participation.
“Given that pandemics recognize no borders, and make no distinction between nationalities, we think it is irresponsible for the WHO to continue to limit Taiwan’s participation,” said Wu. “We will continue to seek participation in the WHO. We believe that having taken successful actions to mitigate the coronavirus, we have a lot to share with the international community.”
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