"This event is not unlike Japan's another medical experiment on a living body just for Tokyo Olympic." said a citizen.© Inho Shin
For three days, from October 30th to November 1st, the Japanese government has conducted empirical tests at the baseball stadiums where the Tokyo Olympic events will be hosted next summer. With the test, the government reportedly wanted to verify the effectiveness of the COVID-19 measures by allowing up to 80 percent of baseball fans in the stadium.
According to the Mainichi newspaper, the tests will use three daily matches played at Tokyo Dome and at Yokohama Stadium over the weekends. Experts say the risk of infection clusters is greater at the Tokyo Dome as it is an indoor stadium with worse ventilation. Concerns increased because bringing together thousands of people could lead to a large number of infections.
Engineers installed dozens of high-resolution cameras and sensors across the stadium to monitor the percentage of mask usage and the infections near the stadium around the game. Also, CO2 detectors checked on the movements of the baseball fans and the levels of crowd density.
Data was sent to Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to analyze the experiments. This supercomputer can simulate the spread of airborne droplets at indoor areas such as public transportations or offices.
"We do not have data yet on how droplets spread indoors. We need to know how droplets spread the virus in various indoor circumstances to prevent future infections," an anonymous official spoke as the experiment was held.
Currently, sporting facilities are only allowed to fill to half their capacity. However, during the experiment at Yokohama Stadium, at the games between the DeNan BayStars and the Hanshin Tigers, Yokohama Stadium was filled to 86 percent capacity, or 27,850 fans.
The Japanese government believes that the size of crowds that can watch sporting events is critical data needed to prepare for the upcoming Olympic events. However, this series of experiments had brought up a debate about safety.
"The timing isn't good since we continue to see numbers of infections that could lead to the third wave," said Atsuro Hamada, professor at Tokyo Medical University. The professor added, "I know there isn't a lot of time left before the Olympics, but this is the worst time to do such a huge experiment."
"There was no mass infection at baseball stadiums," the Japanese government announced, but now, Japan is recording over 2,200 new COVID-19 cases, daily.