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Live sport restarts in Taiwan, Eleven streams baseball globally

Pitcher Ariel Miranda #28 of CTBC Brothers pitching during the CPBL game between CTBC Brothers and Uni-President Lions at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on April 12, 2020 in Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)

Taiwan’s baseball and football leagues began their 2020 seasons behind closed doors at the weekend, joining the small group of sports globally that are continuing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sports broadcaster Eleven Sports showed live coverage of the opening games of the baseball league, which is called the Chinese Professional Baseball League, on its television channels in Taiwan and Japan, and streamed the coverage live, globally via its Taiwanese Twitter account.

On Saturday, the former Seattle Mariners left hander Ariel Miranda threw the first pitch of the season for the Chinatrust Brothers against the Uni-President Lions at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium. No fans were allowed in the 20,000-seater arena to watch the Lions win 4-1. Attendees were limited to a total of 200 players, coaches, umpires, cheerleaders and journalists, local media reported.

In a press release, Nick Wilkinson, Asia managing director at Eleven Sports, said: “We are committed to bringing the best sporting action to our fans around the world and in these difficult times live sport events are of course few and far between. That’s why we took the decision to share our live coverage from the Chinese Professional Baseball League this weekend with baseball fans wherever they are.”

Eleven launched in Taiwan in 2016. Its content includes domestic baseball and basketball, English Premier League football and NBA basketball.

Sunday witnessed the return of the Taiwan Football Premier League, now in its fourth season, also behind closed doors. Taipei-based champions Tatung City FC lost 3-2  to their rivals from the southern city of Kaohsiung, Taipower.

Taiwan has been somewhat successful in limiting the spread of the virus, reporting to date 388 cases and six deaths in a population of about 24 million.