South Korea: Coronavirus brings horse racing to a halt

Racing at LetsRun Park in Seoul. Photo: Korea Racing Authority

By Jon Lees

South Korea: Horse racing in South Korea has been halted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Although the fixtures at Seoul and Jeju on Saturday went ahead as scheduled, Sunday’s meetings at Seoul and Busan racecourses were called off and a resumption later this week must be doubtful.

The cancellations were in reaction to a spike in the number of infections with South Korea one of the worst affected countries outside China, where the outbreak started.

With the number of cases standing at 31 midweek, another 160 new cases were confirmed on Sunday bringing the total to 602. There have been five deaths from the illness caused by the virus.

The disease alert level has been raised to the highest with President Moon Jae-in stating the COVID-19 outbreak had reached “a crucial watershed”, describing the next few days as critical.

More than 78,000 people worldwide have been infected with the virus, with almost 77,000 in China.

While there have been 62 cases in neighbouring Hong Kong, from which there have been two deaths, horse racing has continued albeit in front of empty stands with only trainers, jockeys, Hong Kong Jockey Club officials, stewards and owners with runners admitted.

Customers have to undergo temperature checks and are advised to wear face masks.

The same option is not possible in South Korea where there is no online or telephone betting. An announcement on this week’s scheduled racing is expected to be made on Wednesday.

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