Competing without spectators, how are Olympic athletes affected?

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2021-08-02 03:00:01

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is undoubtedly one of the strangest Olympics in human history. Held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the host country Japan has decided not to welcome spectators in all of its opening and closing matches and events.

Two years earlier, the Japanese Olympic Committee had planned to welcome 20-40 million international visitors to their Olympics. But the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the competitions to be postponed for 1 year. And now, even Japanese audiences have to stay at home to watch matches on screens.

A representative of the electronics chain Bic Camera said that TV sales in Japan in June and July increased by 10-20% compared to the same period last year. And the most popular TV type is OLED with a screen over 65 inches, equipped with surround speakers suitable for watching the Olympics at home.

Competing without spectators, how are Olympic athletes affected?  - Photo 2.

Held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the host country Japan has decided not to welcome spectators in all 2020 Olympic matches. Japanese people also have to watch the matches at home via TV.

To compensate for the gloomy atmosphere of the matches without spectators, the Japanese broadcaster and Olympic organizers devised a way to attract viewers by playing epic soundtracks interspersed with performances. light acting.

They are also very invested in commentary, for example, in swimming, NBC television took the trouble to invite legendary fisherman Michael Phelps to Tokyo to comment on matches live.

But for the athletes themselves, perhaps nothing can make up for the lack of cheers and vibrant cheers from the stands. Now, silence has overwhelmed Olympic gymnasiums, sports complexes and even stadiums designed with tens of thousands of seats.

Athletes are hoarse, they have to cheer for each other in order to win adrenaline

It must be said that not all athletes clearly feel the necessary role of the audience. For example, in shooting, the silence from the stands sometimes helps them focus better.

But in fast-paced or team sports, spectators have always been an essential part of the game. Some athletes even find their source of strength from booing crowds.

Delaney Schnell, the female diver who won the first medal for the United States at this year’s Olympics, said: “As you come out of the water, you hear their voices. It’s hard without an audience because they’re the ones that give you that adrenaline rush.”

Adrenaline is a hormone that the brain releases that has the ability to stimulate, increase excitement, increase heart rate and blood flow to the muscles. Not surprisingly, this hormone plays an important role and determines the sports performance of athletes.

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The coach of the German women’s judo team slaps her student to help her activate the adrenaline system in her brain.

James Houle, lead sports psychologist at Ohio State Athletics, said: “The noise and excitement of the crowd is what gives athletes the adrenaline rush. There are no crowds, real athletes must find that energy within themselves, or in their teammates.“.

And that’s exactly what Matt Anderson, the US volleyball player, had to do. “I’m trying to give our boys a lot of energy, and myself, to get through that quiet atmosphere.” Anderson said in a low voice that was almost completely closed.

When the USA men’s volleyball team played, in the stands only the women’s team was there cheering them on. This seems to be in stark contrast to the festive atmosphere of the European football championship.

Just last month, the stands in the UK and many of the countries that co-hosted the EURO were packed with spectators. That’s because they were able to vaccinate the majority of the population. Before the Olympics, Japan was a rare wealthy country that had only given a COVID-19 vaccine to 2.7% of its population. The rate in England before they opened the EURO was 65%.

American football player Megan Rapinoe said this year’s Olympics “literally without fanfare. You see signs, you have lanyards, and you have things that make it feel like an Olympics, but it’s definitely something very different.“.

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The lonely joy of the Mexican Olympic men’s football team after a strong 4-1 victory over the French team at Tokyo Stadium without a single spectator.

A study conducted within the framework of the German Bundesliga shows that: When they became the first major sports league to not host spectators for a series of matches, the performance of football players. has declined.

Scientists have analyzed the results of more than 6 weeks of playing in empty stadiums of clubs, their home win rate has decreased by 10%. Players take fewer shots on goal and they score less than when the stadium is packed with spectators.

Some people even dropped out because of the gloomy atmosphere

The Japanese Olympic organizers only made the decision to ban domestic spectators at the last minute, after their government declared a state of emergency for Tokyo due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections. Foreign audiences have been denied entry to Japan since March, their entire borders virtually closed.

For weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who just won her first gold medal for the Philippines in 97 years at the Olympics, it means she has experienced this historic moment without her loved ones by her side.

I wanted my mother there, my friends there, the crowd there, if so it would have been a better moment – I envisioned and imagined such a scene“, said Diaz.But we have to accept that it won’t happen in a situation like now.”

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The Philippines’ weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz said she regretted that in this historic moment she and the country did not have relatives by her side.

The inability to accompany their families to matches and the absence of fans even caused many athletes to drop out of the tournament. For example, Liz Cambage, the Australian basketball player who decided to withdraw from the tournament after she read about the impact of those factors on her mental health.

The audience ban is just one part of a series of stringent measures taken by Japanese organizers to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Another ban has also been issued to athletes participating in the Olympics, that except for their matches and training, they will not be allowed to leave the athletes’ village. This is to limit contact with local people, you will not see an Olympic athlete on the Tokyo subway system, the organizers said.

In addition, athletes must also have their body temperature checked regularly and tested to rule out COVID-19. All those who test positive for the disease will immediately be quarantined and banned from competition.

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Barriers outside the Olympic Village in the Harumi riverside district, Tokyo.

As for the organizers, they are still closely monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of anti-epidemic measures. During the Olympic days, the number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo hit a record consecutively, with more than 3,865 cases last Thursday. The number of new COVID-19 infections nationwide also exceeded 10,000 for the first time.

But inside the Athletes’ Village, there have been fewer than 30 new cases of COVID-19 so far. International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said the absence of spectators allowed athletes in Tokyo to live and compete in a parallel world different from the outside.

Hong Kong rider Cheung Siu Lun praised the measures taken by the organizers to keep athletes safe. Siu Lun’s voice was also hoarse from cheering for his teammates.

When he started his journey to Tokyo, he feared the Olympic Village would be “one of the most dangerous places in the world“, because being there means living close to many people from so many different countries. But now, Siu Lun hardly has to worry about COVID anymore, other than cheering for his teammates, he simply focus on training and competition.

Competing without spectators, how are Olympic athletes affected?  - Photo 7.
Competing without spectators, how are Olympic athletes affected?  - Photo 8.

A volunteer cleans chairs before a match at the 2020 Olympics, even though they will be left empty.

However, some other athletes feel that COVID-19 is still a problem, especially the South African football team. Two players and a support staff member of their delegation were the first to test positive for COVID-19 in the Olympic Village. Their team was also eliminated after losing all three of their group stage matches.

One thing that I think should be mentioned is the issue of discrimination“, said South Africa coach David Notoane.When people walk past us, you’ll see them turn around and run away. I think it’s a bit disrespectful“.

Refer to Bloomberg, Times

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