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Spectators seen at test event for Olympic marathon despite calls for 'complete restraint'

Runners start the Sapporo Challenge Half Marathon, a test event for the Tokyo Olympics marathon, in Sapporo on May 5, 2021. (Pool photo)

SAPPORO -- Some spectators were seen along the route of the Sapporo Challenge Half Marathon held on the morning of May 5 as a test event for the Tokyo Olympics marathon, despite organizers' calls for a "complete restraint" to avoid crowds amassing.

    The race was held on a shortened version of the Olympic course between Odori Park and the midway point of the marathon in the capital of the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido. As the surge in coronavirus infections has also become serious in Hokkaido, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games called for the complete restraint of spectators along the roadside course to avoid crowds forming, but a certain number of spectators were seen along the route, mainly in downtown areas.

    Signboards that read, "Please refrain from watching the race to prevent infections" were placed along the course. Some 770 staff members, a major increase from about the 470 originally planned, were in attendance warning people to avoid forming crowds by hanging signboards around their necks.

    Meanwhile, some people holding placards with critical messages, such as "No Olympics; See Reality," were also spotted along the route. During a TV broadcast of the race, a woman along the course could be heard saying, "No Olympics!"

    (Japanese original by Yuta Kobayashi, Sports News Department)

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