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(LEAD) Moon hails opening of pro sports as meaningful step toward normal life

All News 14:51 May 06, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with seminars on post-coronavirus policy tasks in last 6 paras; ADDS photos, byline)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, May 6 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that South Korea is setting a precedent for how to enjoy professional sports in the coronavirus era, a day after the opening of the country's new baseball season.

Games began on Children's Day following a monthlong delay, though fans were not allowed into ballparks over concerns of COVID-19. Players were even prohibited from spitting on field.

It demonstrated South Koreans' cautious return to normalcy, as COVID-19 infections have slowed remarkably in recent weeks.

The country shifted from social distancing to "everyday quarantine" as of Wednesday, when health authorities reported zero local infections for the third consecutive day.

"The world will learn, with a close look, how to enjoy sports while making quarantine and everyday life coexist," the president wrote on his social media account.

President Moon Jae-in in a file photo provided by Cheong Wa Dae (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

He noted that the United States and Japan broadcast the games live for baseball fans thirsty for live action.

"We would be more pleased if K-baseball is recognized (globally) via this opportunity," he added.

Moon pointed out that the South Korean football league is also scheduled to kick off Friday, Parents' Day.

"I expect sports to give hope to the people desiring the recovery of their daily lives as early as possible," he said. "To that end, the opening of the sports season should be well established in harmony with quarantine."

He stressed public efforts against the virus were behind the accomplishment of the "K-quarantine."

The Doosan Bears and the LG Twins play the season opener at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on May 5, 2020. (Yonhap)

Moon's policy aides plan to focus this month on drawing up post-coronavirus strategies, as he is to mark the third year in office this weekend.

The Presidential Commission on Policy Planning is co-hosting a two-day forum, titled "Crisis and opportunity in the post-coronavirus era," in Seoul from Thursday, together with the National Research Council for Economics, Humanities and Social Sciences.

On Thursday, the Chinese and British ambassadors to South Korea -- Xing Haiming and Simon Smith -- will share their assessments of South Korea's handling of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun will then deliver a special lecture on the issue.

"I hope the upcoming seminar would set the stage for predicting a huge transformation attributable to COVID-19 and hammer out ways for our society to cope with it and relevant tasks," Cho Dae-yop, chief of the committee, said.

Several other presidential panels, including those on Seoul's New Southern Policy and New Northern Policy, are slated to hold a string of policy conferences in May.

Cho Dae-yop, head of the Presidential Commission on Policy Planning, in a file photo (Yonhap)


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