A second attempt at admitting a small number of racegoers to Korean racecourses and off-track betting centers will begin this weekend. Permission was previously granted in late July for a partial reopening but was rescinded one day before the scheduled start date.
While new COVID-19 cases in the country continue to hover between 50-120 per day, Korea nevertheless lowered its social distancing guidelines to the lowest level in mid-October as it seeks to manage the virus while enabling parts of the economy that have been shuttered, to reopen.
Fans were immediately admitted to football, baseball and basketball stadiums. Two weeks of attendance at those sports have now passed without incident and permission remains in place for a partial re-opening of the racecourses.
From Friday, up to 20% of the average attendance will be permitted to enter the Seoul, Busan and Jeju Racecourses while 10% of capacity will be allowed at Off-Track Betting Centers (OCBs). The exception is the OCBs at Bucheon and at the Walker Hill in Seoul, both of which will remain closed for the time being.
All seating will be allocated and punters must make a reservation one day in advance using the “My Card” betting application. No walk-up admission will be available at either the racecourses or OCBs. Masks will be mandatory.
It it goes ahead it will mean that Friday’s card at Jeju will mark the first legal betting on horse racing in Korea since February 22nd. Only horse owners were permitted to enter the track during the behind-closed-doors summer meeting. Permission was granted in late July for a partial reopening but was rescinded one day before the planned start.
This weekend, racing will be conducted at Jeju on Friday, Busan on Saturday and Seoul on Sunday for the same reduced prize money that has been raced for at the closed-doors Friday meetings over the past two weeks. Thoroughbred races will be run only over 1200M, 1400M and 1800M. It is hoped that a more normal schedule, as well as international simulcasting, will be permitted from one week later.