Pro Baseball Team to Deploy Robotic Fans Amid Coronavirus


We've heard of robot umpires before, sure, but cyborg spectators?

A professional baseball team in Taiwan announced on Tuesday that it will place robotic mannequins resembling fans in its stands while real spectators are banned from the stadium in accordance with social distancing requirements during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Megan Armstrong of Bleacher Report.

The Rakuten Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League said the move was meant to bring some levity to an awkward situation.

"Since we are not allowed to have any fans in attendance, we might as well have some fun with it," said general manager Justin Liu, according to league's website. "We went with 500 robot mannequins to comply with the current CDC guideline."

Rakuten players even got a chance to meet their new, um, cheering section.

The stunt comes just days before the CBPL season-opener, now scheduled for April 11 after two postponements. The league's prior two start dates -- March 14 and March 28 -- were pushed back as China has been hesitant to lift its lockdown over fears of a resurgence of the coronavirus there.

The Monkeys play their home games at Taoyuan Stadium in Taoyuan City, Taiwan.