Taiwanese baseball team replacing fans with 'robot mannequins' to open season


Crisis breeds innovation.

And this? Well, this probably counts.

Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League is scheduled to get underway on Saturday as a sign of a return to normalcy after the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league’s start date was pushed back twice from March 14 because of the pandemic.

Like in the United States, fans in China are still not permitted to gather in large groups, meaning games will be played in empty stadiums.

Except for those hosted by the Rakuten Monkeys. The Monkeys announced on Monday that the stands for their home games will be partially filled by “robot mannequins.”

Bring on the robot mannequins

What exactly is a robot mannequin, you ask? Well, they apparently look like this:

Beyond that, your guess is as good as ours. From that photo provided by the Monkeys, it appears that the seat-dwellers lean more mannequin than robot. But who knows? Maybe they’ll start doing the wave for Saturday’s home opener. Or drink beer. Or taunt the opposition.

But for now, we’ll assume they just sit (or stand) in their pre-determined poses.

According to CPBL Stats — a website that covers the league — there will be 500 robot mannequins placed in the stands.

“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, per CPBL Stats. “We went with 500 robot mannequins to comply with the current CDC guideline.”

It all begs the question. Are robot-mannequin fans better than having no fans at all?

Manager Tseng Hao-Chu is surely excited about the robot mannequins. (Gene Wang/Getty Images)
Manager Tseng Hao-Chu is surely excited about the robot mannequins. (Gene Wang/Getty Images/file)

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