Skip to main content

Government Officials Concerned About Impact of Large Crowds Along Olympic Marathon Course on Pandemic

At Odori Park in central Sapporo, the start and finish point for the Tokyo Olympics women's and men's marathons held on Aug. 7 and 8, it was found that the number of people in the area of the park increased by over 10% during the marathons relative to the same time period a week earlier. Increasing as the end of the race neared, crowd size was 12.7% higher at the finish of the women's marathon on Aug. 7 and 10.3% higher at the finish of the men's marathon on Aug. 8. 

The Mainichi Newspaper Corp. analyzed the data, which was collected by Agoop, a subsidiary of mobile phone service provider Softbank. Comparisons were made based on the average number of people present per hour within a 500 m radius of the Odori subway station. The women's marathon began at 6:00 a.m. on Aug. 7. Between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. 31,256 people were present in the area, but from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. that number increased to 35,248. After 8:00 a.m., when Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir won the gold medal and Japan's Mao Ichiyama finished 8th, the number further increased to 44,379 people.

Compared to a week earlier on July 31, these numbers were 11.3% higher for 6:00~7:00 a.m., 8.2% higher for 7:00~9:00 a.m., and 12.7% higher for 8:00~9:00 a.m. After the race for the 10:00~11:00 a.m. slot the numbers were also 4.8% higher than the previous week, but from 1:00~2:00 p.m. the numbers were 0.6% lower than on July 31, and from 5:00~6:00 p.m. 12.5% lower. The fact that non-race times showed a decrease in the number of people in the area indicates that the increase during the race was noteworthy.

In the same way, the number of people was higher during the men's marathon on Aug. 8. From the 7:00 a.m. start to 8:00 a.m. the number increased 1.7% from the week before, from 8:00~9:00 a.m. 5.0% higher, and from 9:00~10:00 a.m. when Suguru Osako placed 6th it was 10.3% higher. 52,123 people were present in the area between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

With the Olympic marathon and race walking events held on public streets in downtown Sapporo, the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, Sapporo city government and Hokkaido prefectural government had all asked people not to come cheer along the course in order to help minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Volunteers and security personnel stationed along the course asked people not to stay and watch, but despite their efforts dense crowds gathered everywhere and especially near the start and finish in Odori Park. A senior official with the prefectural government commented, "Many spectators seemed to have come from outside Hokkaido prefecture. We are very worried about what that means for the future progress of the pandemic."

Osako photo © 2021 David Motozo Rubenstein, all rights reserved
sign photo © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

source article:
translated by Brett Larner

Buy Me A Coffee


Most-Read This Week

Hokkaido's Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. Builds 330 m Greenhouse Indoor Track

Targeting its sixth-straight win at the Oct. 23 Hokkaido Prefecture High School Girls Ekiden, Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. has complete construction of the Asahikawa Ryukoku Indoor Track, at 330 m in length the nation's largest running-specific circuit course entirelyely enclosed in vinyl greenhouse material. The ceremony marking the track's official completion is scheduled for Oct. 28th. In a part of the country known for heavy snowfall, the hope is that Asahikawa Ryukoku's new year-round training ground will help it make the jump to becoming a factor at the national level. The indoor track was built on the 1650 square meter campus of the former Asahikawa Toei H.S., where Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. will relocate next summer. Coated in durable vinyl, the massive white torus of the track stands out from its surroundings. Ranging from 5.4 m to 7.2 m in width, the track's housing is wide enough to accommodate four lanes. In the future, two lanes will be covered with artificial turf

Kanazawa Marathon to Stop Runners at 21 Locations Due to Election

Due to be held the same day as voting in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, runners at the Kanazawa Marathon can expect to be stopped at over 20 intersections on the course in order to allow voters on their way to the polls to pass without interference.  Scheduled to be held Oct. 31 after last year's race was canceled, the Kanazawa Marathon will take place while voting polls for the House of Representatives election are open. On race day, road closures for the marathon will be in place for up to 6 hours, but the locations of 14 polling stations on the course mean that voters will need to be able to cross through intersections. 50,000 voters are expected to use these locations, and while city officials are calling for people to utilize early voting or polling stations not affected by road closures then have made the decision to place security personnel at 21 intersections to stop runners when necessary. The Kanazawa Marathon already has this policy in place at

February's Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled Due to Pandemic

On Oct. 14 the organizers of Tokyo's Ome 30 km Road Race announced that the popular event's 55th running, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, will not go ahead and will instead be postponed a year. Organizers said that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they had concerns about being able to stage the event in a way safe for runners, local residents, race staff and volunteers. The Ome 30 km's 55th running was originally scheduled for February, 2021 but was postponed to 2022, meaning the new decision will in effect be a two-year postponement.  The Ome 30 km Road Race was founded in 1967. Starting in the western Tokyo suburb of Ome, the race follows a mountainous route along the upper Tama River gorge and back. Featuring both 30 km and 10 km races, the race seen wins from Olympic gold medalists like Naoko Takahashi  and Mizuki Noguchi , and is one of Japan's most popular races for amateur runners, with over 12,000 finishers every year. In place of the 2022 event, organizers