Tokyo Olympics: Japan captain Yoshida questions spectator ban

By Sports Desk July 18, 2021

Japan men's football captain Maya Yoshida has called on Olympics organisers to reconsider their decision to stage the Tokyo Games behind closed doors.

The call to ban spectators from attending events was taken earlier this month after Japan's capital city was placed into a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases.

However, fans are still able to attend certain other sporting contests within the country away from the Olympics, such as Japan's friendly with Spain in Kobe on Saturday.

A socially distanced crowd was present for the 1-1 draw and Yoshida has questioned why locals will not be permitted to attend matches when the Games begin next week.

"I think a lot of people's tax money is going to hold these Olympics," Yoshida is quoted as saying by the Asahi newspaper.

"Despite that, people can't go and watch. So you wonder about who the Olympics is for, and what it is for. Of course athletes want to play in front of fans."

Tokyo 2020 officials confirmed the first coronavirus case at the Olympic Village on Saturday, since when two athletes have reportedly tested positive.

"Our families have sacrificed and put up with things, they supported us when we were competing in Europe," Sampdoria defender Yoshida added.

"It's not just the players who were competing, but the family members, every one of them.

"So if they can't watch the match, well who and what is that match for, there is that question. I really hope we can reconsider that seriously."

Japan will take on South Africa in their opening Group A game on Thursday, before facing Mexico and France. The top two sides will advance to the quarter-finals.

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