COVID-19 impact: Fake it with sex dolls, robots and cardboard crowd!

Updated: May 21, 2020, 09:00 IST | AFP | Mumbai

Sport without fans is a challenge for organisers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are few innovations tried out to make empty stadiums more appealing

Mannequins in the stands during a football match at Seoul
Mannequins in the stands during a football match at Seoul

Robot drummers: Sport took a surreal twist when Taiwan's baseball league started last month, with robots providing live music as they drummed in the stands. In what could have been a scene from Star Wars, a group of robots banged drums for Rakuten Monkeys' opening game.

Sex dolls: By far the most attention has been generated by South Korea's FC Seoul, who were accused of putting sex dolls in their seats after mannequins advertising adult toys appeared at their match on Sunday. FC Seoul denied the figures, reportedly provided by a distributor, were sex toys.

Baseball barbecue: Baseball cheerleaders in Taiwan have been carrying out live interactions with fans from the stadiums, chatting and broadcasting dance routines over their phones. One cheerleader even cooked and ate a barbecue while sitting in the stands, while streaming herself on the internet.

Cardboard cut-outs of Borussia Moenchegladbach’s fans are seen at the Borussia Park football Stadium in Moenchengladbach. Pics/AFP
Cardboard cut-outs of Borussia Moenchegladbach’s fans are seen at the Borussia Park football Stadium in Moenchengladbach. Pics/AFP

App-lause: Software developers have launched an app, MyApplause, which allows fans to create crowd noise from their homes. Users can choose from cheering, clapping, chanting and whistling, and the resulting noise is played over the stadium loudspeakers and the spectators' home sound systems.

Piped noise: The sound of tinny, recorded cheering has replaced the roar of the crowd in some stadiums. In South Korea's K-League, recordings of popular chants have echoed around the country's empty football venues, some of which hosted games at the 2002 World Cup. Meanwhile, TV viewers of Australian Rules football will hear pre-recorded crowd noises laid over the match footage when games return next month.

Cardboard Crowd: Cardboard cut-outs have been a popular way to fill empty seats, but German football club Borussia Moenchengladbach took the idea a step further and gave fans the chance to have life-sized images of themselves in the stands. Thousands of fans have taken up the offer, where they pay 19 euros to have their image placed in the stadium. 

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