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Robots and Cardboard “Fans” Are Invading Baseball Games in Taiwan

The cardboard fans dotting the stadium weren't properly prepared for such conditions, though.

The season opener for Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League got underway after nearly a month of delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with some help from robot drummers and cardboard “fans” in the stands. A rain delay forced the game to be moved from Saturday to Sunday, April 12, 2020, but still in time for it to be the world’s first professional baseball league match since the coronavirus pandemic shut down most professional sporting events around the globe.

The Chinese Professional Baseball League finally restarted its 2020 season amidst the ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 around the world. The island league’s official opening day and return to baseball fell on April 11, but rain ultimately delayed games for the following day.

At the home opener for the Rakuten Monkeys, cardboard cut-outs wearing facemasks and mannequins sporting Rakuten’s red and white gear were placed throughout the Taoyuan Baseball Stadium in an attempt to (I guess) bring a sense of normalcy to the players on the field.

Even stranger, robots were playing the drums during Rakuten’s home game against the Chinatrust Brothers.

“Since we are not allowed to have any fans in attendance, we might as well have some fun with it,” Monkeys General Manager Justin Liu said, via USA Today. “We went with 500 robot mannequins to comply with the current CDC guideline.”

All that’s missing is Will Smith running in to save the day in I, Robot style.

Several Taiwanese sports leagues, including pro basketball and football, are playing games again. According to AFP, fans are not in attendance for those contests, but many are still weary of exposing athletes to the health risks that exist.

One thing is for sure: mannequin fans and actual robots are having more fun at sporting events than we are these days, but at least sports are coming back.

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