Nearly 28k packed into Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball, softball venue to boost COVID-19 safety response

Nearly 28k packed into Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball, softball venue to boost COVID-19 safety response
Sunday's open gate completed a three-day trial that began on Friday, 30 October where the Yokohama Stadium allowed for an 80% capacity limit, followed by 90% capacity limit on Saturday.

A total of 27,850 fans filled the 34,046-seat capacity Yokohama Stadium - the main baseball/softball venue for next year's Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - on Sunday, to watch the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) game between the Yokohama DeNA BayStars and the Hanshin Tigers.

It was the first time in the COVID-19 era, the venue was pushed to near full capacity.

The game concluded a three-day trial where officials systematically filled the venue in order to test COVID-19 safety measures, providing plenty of learnings for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next summer, not to mention the international sports world.

"We saw great teamwork from the local staff combined with the latest technology available at an official Olympic venue," said Hidemasa Nakamura, the Tokyo 2020 Games Delivery Officer. "We still have a lot of work to do, but next summer I expect the kind of teamwork we saw today and the latest technology to come into its own. This will help us host safe games for athletes and spectators alike. We can draw a lot from this."

Sunday was the third day of an experiment that began on Friday, 30 October. The first game registered an attendance of 16,594, respecting a 80% capacity limit. The second night allowed for 90% capacity, as 24,537 packed the stadium before all limitations were lifted for Sunday's game.

The goal of the experiment, conducted jointly by Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture and the BayStars, was reportedly to test a system that uses multiple high-precision cameras to check whether every person in attendance was wearing a mask. Another system allowed officials to track the movement of people using a smartphone app and ensure social distancing.

Japan has been reporting fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 cases per day for over two months, down from a mid-summer peak.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, "With the use of scientific knowledge we have obtained in dealing with the coronavirus, we will try to balance the preventative measures and social activities."