Surfing is not for city dwellers who can’t cheer on the local hero
ICHINOMIYA, Chiba Prefecture – Locals were ready to jump on board to cheer on a local gold-seeking surfer off the coast here at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Instead, without authorized spectators, they feel like the victims of a “annihilate.“
The decision to ban spectators from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic frustrates residents of Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture, who can only view the Olympic surf competition as a “near but far” event.
The city hosts a venue for the events, which are slated to begin July 25 and run through August 1.
All eyes of residents will be on Hiroto Ohhara, 24, who grew up and still lives in the seaside town, but only remotely via the internet and television.
Ohhara’s father Tsuyoshi, 47, is still anxiously awaiting to see if he will be allowed to enter the site and watch his son compete as a family member.
“I don’t know. I don’t have any news yet. But probably, I won’t be able to attend,” he said resignedly.
A total of 1,242 children and teachers in the city had planned to watch the events on July 26 and 27.
But under the spectator ban, only one municipal government employee per day will be allowed to enter the site as a city official.
Ichinomiya Mayor Masaya Mabuchi and other officials discussed courtesy visits to the site.
But Mabuchi wonders if he should go see the competition “when the townspeople can’t.”
Magoichiro Tamagawa, a former mayor of the city who led the tender to bring the Olympic surf competition to Ichinomiya, was also heartbroken.
Tamagawa, 75, won a ticket to the lottery event and couldn’t wait to see the contestants ride the waves. But the note became worthless.
Tamagawa was also involved as a volunteer, offering tourist tips to visitors. He even perfected his English in preparation for his duties.
But he learned on July 12 that his services as a volunteer are no longer needed.
When Ohhara secured a spot on Japan’s team for the Tokyo Olympics, the city broke the big news about the community wireless system.
Officials plan to use the wireless system again during the Games to update residents on their hero’s situation in the competition.