By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- The new head of South Korean professional baseball said Tuesday he will prioritize running a safe 2021 season during the coronavirus pandemic while also putting together an improved product on the field.
Chung Ji-taik, a 70-year-old executive with the business conglomerate Doosan Group, was introduced as the 23rd commissioner of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) that day.
In his inauguration ceremony held at the KBO headquarters in Seoul, Chung said the KBO faces "a series of tasks" in order to take the next step. For his first season, Chung listed four key objectives.
At the top was conducting a safe season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We'll further strengthen our quarantine management and response system," Chung said. "The safety of our fans and players will be the top priority."
Chung also said he wants to improve the quality of play that would ensure "sustainable growth" of the KBO.
"We'll explore ways in which all of our 10 clubs can work together to identify young players early and develop their talent efficiently," Chung said. "In order to develop quality coaches, we'll cooperate with prominent baseball academies overseas."
With the attendance numbers having dropped in 2018 and 2019, the two recent pre-pandemic seasons when fans were allowed to attend, Chung said he'll try to seek ways to drive up interest again.
"We're going to add projects that can better cater to our fans' needs and award clubs that provide the best service for their fans," the new commissioner said. "We also want to make our fans proud at the Tokyo Olympics this summer and establish strategies that can help us win the gold medal. A strong performance in international competitions will create a good opportunity to usher in a new golden age for the KBO."
Chung will also try to improve the league's bottom line on his watch, saying the financial hardships brought on by COVID-19 have forced teams and the league to be creative in their ways to do business.
"We'll seek to make profits using online platforms," Chung said. "Our focus will also be on creating different types of content for all demographics."
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