Saturday, December 9, 2023

Olympic hockey set for behind closed doors as Tokyo spectators banned

Hockey Olympians will play in front of no spectators at the Oi Stadium as the Olympics effectively turned into a TV-only Games.

It followed the news on Thursday that all spectators would be banned from attending Olympic events in Tokyo after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency over rising infections.

“Many people were looking forward to watching the games at the venues, but I would like everyone to fully enjoy watching the games on TV at home,” Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said. “It’s gut-wrenching because many people looked forward to watching at the venues.”

Last month, Games organisers put in place plans to allow venues to be 50 per cent full, up to a maximum of 10,000 people.

The capacity of the North and South pitch is 10,000 and 5,000 respectively, but the stands will remain empty for the duration.

Andy Anson, British Olympic Association chief executive, said: “We have a lot of sadness and regret for the Japanese people in particular, because it’s a massive thing to host an Olympic Games. I find it very sad for them that they aren’t going to have the experiences we had at London 2012.”

The Oi Hockey Stadium, Tokyo

“It’s sad that there aren’t any fans, but the competition is going to be as intense as ever. That’s the main reason for it to go ahead. It’s not about greed, it’s about something that funds the whole Olympic sporting ecosystem around the world.”

With both GB hockey teams qualifying, Team GB’s squad of 201 female and 175 male athletes will be the biggest for a non-home Olympics.

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