Entertainment & Arts

BTS ask fans to avoid their shows over coronavirus fears

BTS Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The band are set to go to number one this weekend with their latest album, Map Of The Soul: 7

Pop group BTS have asked fans to stay away from their upcoming shows to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The South Korean band are due to film several TV shows in Seoul this week, marking the release of their latest album, Map Of The Soul: 7.

In an email to fan club members, they said the shows would go ahead, but without a studio audience.

Earlier on Monday, the band streamed a press conference from a virtually empty hall due to fears over the virus.

"Health is always on our minds these days, and our messages of facing your inner self and loving yourself are ultimately only possible when you're healthy," said singer Jimin,

"Especially since it is very risky outside these days. I hope you take care of yourself".

The band continued to answer pre-selected questions from journalists at the event, which took place in Seoul.

"We have decided to fully co-operate with the government's policy to refrain from holding events with a massive number of participants in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus," said BTS's management in a statement.

"We would like to advise fans to refrain from visiting the venue of the press conference for your own safety, and ask you to support BTS by watching the press conference via livestreaming."

Seven people have died from coronavirus in South Korea, with more than 760 infected. About 7,700 troops have been quarantined after 11 military members were diagnosed with the disease.

South Korean broadcasters recently took the decision to uninvite audiences from their shows to help contain the outbreak.

BTS will still appear on the K-Pop chart show MCountdown, scheduled for broadcast on 27 February; and Inkigayo, a Top Of The Pops-style programme filmed in Seoul every Sunday, despite the lack of an audience.

The high profile "SBS Super Concert"m which featured BTS alongside fellow K-pop stars Zico, NCT 127 and Cherry Bullet, had previously been postponed following the outbreak of coronavirus in the southeastern city of Daegu.

The Korean Music Awards, where BTS were nominated for artist of the year and song of the year, has also been cancelled. Winners will now be announced online on 27 February.

In an email, BTS apologised to their fans who had been "looking forward to attending the shows", adding: "Thank you for understanding".

Coronavirus has had a big effect on the entertainment industry in Asia, with multiple acts cancelling their tours.

Stormzy postponed dates in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia next month; while K-pop band Got7 cancelled three stadium shows in Thailand and Singapore.

The Chinese premiere of the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, has also been scrapped; while participation in this weekend's Tokyo Marathon has been restricted to the elite field of 176 athletes and 30 wheelchair athletes.

Despite scaling back their promotional plans, BTS's latest album is expected to top the charts around the world this week.

The album amassed pre-orders of 4.02 million copies, according to their record label, Big Hit Entertainment. That would make it the world's biggest-selling album since Ed Sheeran's Divide in 2017, based on pre-sales alone.

In the UK, the Official Charts Company said Map Of The Soul: 7 was outselling its nearest three rivals combined, all-but-guaranteeing it the number one slot on Friday.

BTS will appear on Jimmy Fallon and James Corden's US chat shows this week before their Korean TV specials.

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