【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.
【Tokyo Olympics, Coverage from Hokkaido Venue (6)】Cheering and photos from the roadside as Olympic Race Walk is held in Sapporo
The first of the Tokyo Olympic Games Marathon and Race Walk events to be held in Sapporo began on August 5 with the Men’s 20 km Race Walk. Despite the games’ Organising Committee calling, before the event – as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus – for people to refrain from gathering to watch, spectators packed the roadsides along the course in downtown Sapporo.
“Please do not stop by the roadside. We kindly ask you to go home and watch the race on TV.” Event staff could be heard calling for cooperation as crowds gathered along the course on Sapporo’s Ekimae Street before the race started at 4:30 p.m.
Approximately 200 people gathered shoulder-to-shoulder on the pavement near the start line at Odori Nishi 3-chome. Spectators also gathered in front of a large-scale monitor that was broadcasting loud, upbeat music and images of Olympic highlights. One male resident of Sapporo spoke of his surprise. “I didn’t think the Race Walk event would be crowded so I came to have a look, but there are so many people.”
When the race began, the number of spectators increased even more, with crowds two or three deep in some places, and some even cheering. One man from Nagoya could not find anywhere to stand on the pavement and watched the race while walking. “When I was younger, I was a race walker and wanted to experience the atmosphere of the Olympics at first-hand. They say don’t come but when the city is filled with Olympic logos and posters, it’s hard to stay away.”
Since July, when the games’ Organising Committee, Hokkaido and Sapporo City governments made the decision to request spectators to refrain from gathering along the route, TV commercials and the like have been used to make public announcements. Fences were placed on pavements along the course to prevent crowds gathering, narrowing them down to approximately 2 meters wide, as part of measures to prevent people stopping to watch the race.
However, as the event was held in the city center, where the streets are busy, there was no end to the people stopping to watch the athletes. One male staff member who was using a megaphone to call for spectators to refrain from stopping, was despondent. “What I’m doing is all in vain,” he said.