Local official accuses baseball players of covering up social distancing violation

A local contact tracing official during the coronavirus pandemic accuses professional baseball players of covering an illegal gathering in violation of social distancing rules.

The Gangnam Ward office manager in south Seoul told the Yonhap News Agency on Thursday that the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) NC Dinos players and their two outside guests initially did not report their drinking in a hotel room from the NC team in Seoul last week.

In all, four Dino players and the two guests gathered for a beer at the hotel in Gangnam. As private gatherings of more than four people were banned in greater Seoul at the time, their meeting was a violation of distancing rules.

Of the four athletes, Park Min-woo, fully vaccinated as a member of the Olympic baseball team, escaped infection, while his three teammates – Park Sok-min, Kwon Hui-dong and Lee Myung -ki – and the two guests all tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak on the Dinos, along with two cases on the Doosan Bears, forced the KBO to put the brakes on the regular season on Monday. All games scheduled for this week have been postponed until later in the year, while July 19-August. 9 The Olympic break was already in place. KBO’s teams will have gone almost a full month without a game once the season resumes on August 10.

During the preliminary epidemiological study, the five infected people did not mention their meeting inside the hotel, the Gangnam official said.

“The purpose of the contact tracing was to determine the whereabouts of the people, who they met and whether they had followed all protocols,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “Maybe they raised this in a later investigation. But at first the meeting was not discussed at all.”

This has caused confusion among Seoul metropolitan health authorities, the official said. Even after the Dinos admitted their players had broken social distancing rules, a Seoul city official said the initial report filed by Gangnam Ward found no rule violations by the Dinos. The Gangnam office on Wednesday called on police to open an investigation into players and guests for allegedly giving false details during the contact tracing.

In a radio interview Thursday, Jung Soon-kyun, chief of Gangnam Ward, also said the baseball players and their two guests did not discuss their gathering at the hotel during the preliminary hearing. Jung said his office conducted a new investigation after receiving reports that the players had met guests from outside the hotel, and then could not confirm the gathering of six people.

In his apology released by the Dinos on Wednesday, Park Sok-min said he was fully cooperative with health authorities in their contact tracing. Park Min-woo, who posted his own apology on social media, also said he answered all questions asked by health officials honestly. (Yonhap)

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