Athletes under pressure as they contend with ‘spiking temperatures’ and ‘oppressive’ humidity

Fans watch the Men's road race at Fuji International Speedway.
Fans watch the Men’s road race at Fuji International Speedway. Christian Hartmann / Reuters

Five hundred excited spectators gathered Saturday at one of Japan’s rare public viewing venues in Shizuoka prefecture to watch the men’s road bike race.

“Tokyo has been selected to host the Olympics. Even though the Olympics have been delayed for a year and are being held under very difficult circumstances without spectators, as a Japanese, I feel proud that the Games are happening.” Joji Matsubara, a Shizuoka resident and local spectator, told CNN.

Matsubara, who said he was lucky to get a ticket to the public viewing event, among 2,000 other applicants, said he was looking forward to seeing the road race.

The race saw runners start at Tokyo’s Musashinonomori Park, cycle through Kanagawa and Yamanashi prefectures, and finish on the Fuji International Expressway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, about 2 hours from Tokyo.

The Fuji Expressway allows 10,000 ticket holders to witness the final leg of a road race at a venue that normally holds more than 20,000 people.

The Oyama City Public Viewing Site allows spectators to watch the road bike race on screen, enjoys the small stone wall, and is one of the few events open to the public in Japan.

Currently, spectators will be able to attend less than 12% of the Olympic venues during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Polo crosses the Fuji International Speedway during the Men's Long-distance race on July 24.
The bullet passes through the Fuji International Speedway during the Men’s Road Race on July 24. Michael Steele / Getty Images

Only five of the 42 Olympic venues across Japan will be open to fans. Tokyo is home to 25 of the locations, with the rest in seven prefectures.

Venues in Tokyo and four prefectures – Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Fukushima – will be without spectators at the Olympic venues.

Miyagi, Ibaraki and Shizuoka prefectures with a total of five venues can fill 50% of their capacity with a maximum of 10,000 spectators.

In Shizuoka Prefecture, there are only three venues hosting public viewing spots for road cycling.

“We wanted to invite more people to Shizuoka and watch the road race, but we had to turn down many applicants due to the pandemic and kept it a local event,” said Rie Watanabe, an official from Oyama in Shizuoka Prefecture, told CNN. | Athletes under pressure as they contend with ‘spiking temperatures’ and ‘oppressive’ humidity


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