(ATTN: UPDATES with adjusted league schedule in paras 6-10)
DAEJEON, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — A professional football player in the central city of Daejeon has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, becoming the first athlete from his sport to be infected during the pandemic.
According to the municipal authorities in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, late Tuesday, a member of Daejeon Hana Citizen in the second-tier K League 2 has tested positive for COVID-19.
The player, whose identity is being withheld, had come in direct contact with another patient based in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province.
A club official said the infected player’s teammates who had come in direct or indirect contact with him have been quarantined. Some players were tested Tuesday, and the rest of the squad will be tested Wednesday.
This is the first positive case in the K League, whose season kicked off some two months behind schedule in early May because of the coronavirus outbreak in spring.
In response to this case, the K League announced Wednesday that Daejeon’s remaining two matches will each be pushed back by about two weeks.
Daejeon had been set to face FC Anyang on Saturday, but it will instead be played on Nov. 17. Daejeon’s season finale against Gyeongnam FC has been postponed from Nov. 7 to Nov. 21.
According to the K League, only Daejeon, FC Anyang and Gyeongnam FC will have their fixtures affected by the positive test.
Daejeon are still battling for a spot in the playoffs to earn a promotion to the top-flight K League 1 next season. And the first round of the playoffs will now be moved from Nov. 18 to Nov. 25. The final playoff round will be pushed back from Nov. 21 to Nov. 29.
Daejeon players must be quarantined for the next two weeks and must be tested again after their quarantine period ends.
There was one positive case that emerged in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) on Aug. 31, followed by a second case the next day. Both of them were members of the Hanwha Eagles’ minor league team in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, about 120 kilometers west of Daejeon.
The KBO canceled some minor league games as a result of those positive tests.