The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee hosted a rugby sevens exhibition at Tokyo Stadium on Thursday, the first Olympic test event since the postponement of the games last spring. A Paralympic wheelchair rugby test event was held at Yoyogi National Gymnasium on April 3 and 4.
Thursday’s event focused mostly on logistics and measures to cope with COVID-19.
The test featured two male and two female teams taking the pitch at a venue that had been used for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Around 270 people, including players and staff members, were part of the event. There were no fans allowed inside, though Tokyo 2020 officials, including president Seiko Hashimoto, were seen watching from the stands.
“We have staffers who experienced the Rugby World Cup at this stadium, so in a sense we have more members with experience (compared to at other Olympic venues),” Yasuo Mori, deputy executive director of the games’ operations bureau, said during an online briefing after the event.
Because the players competed in an international competition in Dubai earlier this month, Mori said the event was also an occasion to test the measures in place for players entering Japan for the games.
One thing organizers focused on was making sure players who weren’t part of the game were maintaining social distance.
Mori said organizers will continue to make adjustments ahead of the Olympics, which kick off July 23.
The organizers also had staffers and volunteers perform basic coronavirus countermeasures, such as disinfecting the balls and locker rooms during the test. Mori said more concrete plans will be discussed before the games.
Chiharu Nakamura, a women’s national team veteran, was happy for a chance to play at the Olympic venue and said she was able to visualize herself competing there this summer.
“I was able to see there were various people paying attention to the countermeasures to prevent infections and I’m thankful for that. Hopefully we can turn this into an advantage for our team.” With the start of the Summer Games three months away, there will be many other test events taking place during the remainder of April and in May. A test event for the Olympic and Pa ralympic athletics competition will take place at National Stadium on May 9 and 11, respectively.
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