【Tokyo Olympics, Coverage from Hokkaido Venue】

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics from July 23, 2021 onward.
In Hokkaido, Sapporo will host the marathon, race walking, and football events.
These articles bring you the feelings and reactions of Hokkaido residents.

July 22

Special feature

【Tokyo Olympics, Coverage from Hokkaido Venue ① 】Watching Sapporo women's football match at home amidst COVID-19

Mr. Yamamoto (center) and family cheering for Japan's game-tying goal (9:10 p.m., July 21, Sapporo City)

The first round of women’s football kicked off on July 21 at the Sapporo Dome. This is also the first event to be held in Hokkaido for the Summer Olympic Games. Unfortunately, COVID-19 spreading has not improved, and all matches will be held without spectators. That of course includes this first match, which ended in a 1-1 tie between the Japan women’s national football team “Nadeshiko Japan” and Canada. Hokkaido fans are disappointed, as many wanted to see the matches at the venue.

Pandemic countermeasures also make it difficult for fans to gather at houses and public establishments to cheer for their team together, and some people are even sending shouts of support to each other on their smartphones. Thus begins the “Olympics amidst COVID-19”, something no one has ever experienced before.

During the intense match between Japan and Canada at the Sapporo Dome, pre-recorded cheers and applause played on the speakers. The only other sounds heard were the voices of the players and the sound of the ball being kicked.

On the topic of playing a match without spectators, Japan national team captain and Sapporo-raised Saki Kumagai (FC Bayern Munich) commented, “There were no cheers, and that felt a bit lonely. But being able to participate in a match wearing the national Japanese uniform back in my hometown of Sapporo was definitely a special experience. I am thankful to have been able to play.”

“Yes, this is definitely a sad sight to see. If everything was normal, I would have been watching from around right there.” Sapporo based fan Mr. Yamamoto watched the 7:30 p.m. kickoff on his household living room television on July 21. Out of the ten men’s and women’s football matches scheduled for the Sapporo Dome up to July 28, he had bought tickets for eight matches. Unfortunately, the CODID-19 pandemic made the matches spectator-free, and he was forced to give up attending in person.

Japan let the first score go to Canada during the July 21 match, but in the 39th minute of the last half, a shot by Mana Iwabuchi (Arsenal FC) brought the score up to a tie. Yamamoto stood up and cheered, “Yes!” with his wife and granddaughter, but later commented, “Being able to see an Olympic match live in your hometown is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I really wish I had been able to see this at the Sapporo Dome with my wife and granddaughter.”

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