Yokohama Stadium pilot events a huge success


Japan Yokohama Stadium back with fans Image: KYODO & Tokyo 2020

A three-day pilot run held at Yokohama Stadium (Japan) to gauge the viability of fans returning by the horde has been a success and the Japanese authorities have welcomed the same with further pilots scheduled.

The trial run took place from October 30th to November 1st (Friday to Sunday) and concluded with Yokohama Stadium opening to spectators in full capacity for a Nippon Professional Baseball game between the professional baseball teams DeNA BayStars and Hanshin Tigers. The game on November 1st attracted a crowd of 27,850 to the stadium which can pack in a crowd of 34,046.

Yokohama Stadium is a stadium in Naka-ku, Yokohama, Japan. It opened in 1978 and boasts capacity of 34,046. It is primarily used for baseball and is the home field of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, a professional baseball team in the Japanese Central League.

The Central League or Ce League is one of the two professional baseball leagues that constitute Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The winner of the league championship plays against the winner of the Pacific League in the annual Japan Series. It currently consists of six teams from around the country.

The three-day test event took place as the Government mulls whether to relax current rules due to run through November that limits venues hosting events with more than 10,000 spectators in attendance to 50 percent capacity.

Yokohama Stadium will serve as the main venue for baseball and softball events at next year’s rescheduled Olympic Games. The trial was carried out by the Kanagawa prefectural and Yokohama municipal Governments as well as mobile game developer DeNA, which runs the stadium as a home for the BayStars.

The three-day trial saw Friday’s (October 30th) game allow 80 percent attendance, rising to 90 percent on Saturday (October 31st) and potential full attendance on Sunday (November 1st). Tickets for the games were discounted by 35 percent in a bid to lure supporters back to the arena.

Tokyo 2020 had a 10-man inspection team in place at Yokohama Stadium, as the local organizing committee for the Olympics and Paralympics continues to examine how it will accommodate fans in a COVID-19 struck planet.

“We saw great teamwork from the people onsite combined with the latest technology available at an official Olympic venue,” said Tokyo 2020 Games Delivery Officer Nakamura Hidemasa, as per media reports.

“There is still plenty of work ahead but at the Games next summer, I expect the type of teamwork we saw at the pilot events and cutting-edge technology to be on full display. It will help us host safe and secure Games for athletes and spectators alike. There is a lot we can take from this. At the end of the day, it’s the people who will make it happen. And you have to like what we saw,” added Hidemasa.

The results of the trial runs are set to be shared with the national Government, which leads a commission on COVID-19 countermeasures for the Games with the metropolitan Government and Tokyo 2020. At Yokohama Stadium, fans were screened at the gates for face masks, body temperature, and hand sanitizing. Spectators’ ingress and egress to the stadium was in blocks in an effort to avoid crowding.

The latest camera technology was adopted to track the movement of aerosols in the stands, while fans were able to judge which areas of the stadium were crowded at any time via an app. Hidemasa said the tests and trials will continue, adding, “We have to keep demonstrating what we are doing and how we are doing it so the world knows what to expect”.

Nippon Professional Baseball Organization and football’s J-League held a meeting on November 2nd to discuss if the cap on the number of spectators can be relaxed, with further trials to be held.

Professor Mikamo Hiroshige at Aichi Medical University said after the meeting that full capacity is possible at stadia next year with sufficient scientific data provided. He said talks have now moved to a new phase of how to make people feel comfortable while visiting stadia.

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