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An event to test coronavirus infection prevention measures for the Awa Odori dance festival in the city of Tokushima began Saturday.

The festival was canceled this year for the first time since the end of World War II due to the novel coronavirus epidemic.

The organizing committee, including the Tokushima city government, hopes to test the COVID-19 countermeasures, such as the use of mouth shields by dancers and a limit on the number of spectators, and measures to guide spectators, so that the festival can be resumed next year.

The “Awa Odori Next Model” event will run for two days in the central part of Tokushima.

The dancers kept a distance of 2 meters from each other and refrained from chanting as they danced with their mouth shields on.

An elevated seating area with a capacity of 5,000 was set up, but only about 900 spectators were allowed to use it at a time.

“By making this event a success, I believe we can lead off the restart of festivals nationwide,” said Tokushima Mayor Sawako Naito, who heads the organizing committee.

“I’m disappointed that there was no chanting, but it can’t be helped,” a 60-year-old man living in Tokushima Prefecture said. “I’m looking forward to next year.”

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