The first day of competitions after the opening of the Tokyo Olympics saw medals distributed, records broken and a frightening heat, but what did not leave the athletes’ agenda was the lack of a key element: the public. Arenas with a capacity of thousands of people evacuated due to Kovid-19 were the most visited this Saturday.
+Olympic Summary: Brazil and the US on day one zero, and China on top
United Kingdom-South Africa grass hockey match without spectators — Photo: Alexander Hasenstein/Getty Images
Early in the morning, Shioquez Park hosts beach volleyball, a traditionally successful sport for Brazil – 13 Olympic medals have already been won. There were no witnesses to watch the matches in a temporary facility for 12,000 people.
There is also a side to getting used to it. Games have already been going on without fans on the Brazilian circuit since last year. So, we had an assumption. But I like human warmth. For me, it is very strange to be in a stadium like this, wonderful, beautiful and non-existent. Let’s get used to it, it’s part of it, but it would be really cool if it were full – said current Olympic runner-up Agatha.
She and another Olympic medalist, Alison, used a lot of public support to take the podium at Rio 2016 in an arena set up on Copacabana Beach.
– It’s a completely different experience. In the other two Olympics I played, the grounds were packed. I played with Emmanoel in 2012 and with Bruno Schmidt in 2016. And today, with lvaro, I didn’t have the audience I deserved. But when I hit the court, I pointed and turned around. It was a tribute to all the fans in the world. The Espirito Santo player said, “I feel inspired because we have worked so hard to make it happen.
There are games in which the crowd, or lack thereof, affects less. For reasons such as the impossibility of making noise for good performance (eg tennis) or the absence of sound propagation (eg swimming, in submerged moments).
– When we go there, our attention is so focused that even if the stadium was full, I might have had that reference. But it’s weird. At that point you are in the “flow” of your test, focus, and end up not listening – said Felipe Lima, 36.
German gymnast Nils Dunkel performs without an audience in Tokyo – Photo: Jamie Squier/Getty Images
Volleyball is an unusual case even in an awkward position. Not crowded, but there is little room for silence. Each absence of sound is immediately filled in by a soundtrack on the final section, always of choice on the court. In the match between Brazil and Tunisia, there is not so much a mix of new international hits and Brazilian musical hits, from Legio Urbana to Pablo Vittar.
The voice of the court also screams louder. It was possible to hear almost all the pitches – and even a little more – from Rennan Dal Zoto. Strikes, the ball hits the ground, the players intervene. Everything takes on a new meaning amidst the emptiness of the stand. But the recorded slogans of the order are useless, sending audiences who are not there to clap.
– Speaking of playing without fans, we’re already a little used to it. But this Olympic situation, after playing at home (in Rio 2016), in the crowded Maracanazinho. You felt the breath of the people on the court. A very nice energy that inspired us. Now we have to find this energy in another way – said Douglas Souza.
Douglas Souza in court for selection – Photo: Publicity / FIVB
In the absence of crowds, the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym has different voices. Many gymnasts from every corner of the world always come with coaches and commissions. There is always conversation noise, no matter where you are. Nevertheless, it is possible to hear laughs, screams and even the rumble of instruments. At the end of Arthur Norie’s performance at the fix bar, anyone who came a little closer could almost hear the Brazilian moan outside the Olympic final.
In handball, it is possible to hear clearly what the coach gives the players from instruction. On the one hand it facilitates communication, on the other hand, if they are two countries with similar languages, you end up handing your strategy to the opponent.
The Olympics “new normal” will go on for another 16 days and it will be a disappointment to see empty stands. But if that’s the case with the biggest sporting event on the planet, no one will complain much.
– It’s pretty incredible to compete in this position. To be able to show the world one of the souls of the game, which is resilience, is pretty incredible. It is already very satisfying to be here. We miss affection, hugs, positive energy. But being able to compete and show that the chaos is passing is a great feeling – concluded swimmer Larissa Oliveira.