And the crowd goes … away. Is this the prelude to a virus-hit ...

Sport

And the crowd goes … away. Is this the prelude to a virus-hit Games?

Event cancellations, absence of spectators and other measures stoke fears of a washed-out Tokyo Olympics

Antoni Slodkowski

A line of masked spectators raises muffled cheers for elite marathon runners, and a baseball bat’s thud on a ball echoes around a vast, empty stadium: sport in Tokyo this weekend set the tone for how a coronavirus-hit Olympic Games could play out.

For the first time, Japan’s professional baseball teams staged pre-season openers behind closed doors after the country dramatically escalated its response to the global Covid-19 epidemic by closing schools and cancelling mass events.

In Tokyo, Sunday’s staging of the annual marathon, which in 2019 had close to 38,000 amateur participants, was scaled back to just a few hundred professional athletes, with the public strongly discouraged from lining the route. In past years the event attracted more than one million roadside spectators...

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