Hundreds of fans - many defying orders not to spectate along the roadside - turned out to watch the men’s cycling road race on the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics.
Despite a race official holding a sign which read, "Please refrain from spectating on the roadsides during the event”, television pictures also showed locals packed on the roadside along the 145-mile route.
Organisers had been planning to allow up to 10,000 spectators at venues before reverting to a spectator-free Games following the rise in coronavirus cases and the need to protect athletes competing at the Olympics.
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However, the ban on fans does not extend past the Japanese capital, and with the Fuji prefecture not being subject to Tokyo’s state of emergency, thousands of fans were present at Fuji International Speedway where the road race finale took place.
According to Reuters news agency, fans showed up nearly seven hours before riders were expected to reach the finishing circuits, while the wait clearly got the better of the patient ticket holders as they cheered the riders in the closing stages, despite requests not to stand or shout in the stands.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance," Kayoko Fujita told Reuters. "I think it's OK if you take proper infection-control measures."
On the track, Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz pulled off a superb solo win to win men's gold.
Meanwhile, Team GB’s Geraint Thomas endured another tumble and was forced to stop during the race.
A few weeks ago, the Welshman suffered a crash on Stage 3 of the Tour de France, which effectively ended his tour bid.
In Tokyo on Saturday, Thomas hit the deck as several riders in front of him in the peloton tried to evade a small obstacle in the road.
Taking to social media afterwards, he wrote on Twitter: "All good with me. Thanks for the messages!! Think I must have done something bad in a previous life Freak crash, Tao lost his front wheel and decked it in front of me. I had nowhere to go, other than the floor as well," he said.
The Tokyo Olympics opened on Friday in a near-empty stadium, with only VIPs and media watching a reduced parade of about 5,700 athletes.
With fans at a premium throughout the Games, virtual spectators and pre-recorded stadium noise are expected to be used at competition venues.
With competitors’ family members also not present in Japan, it is reported that some Olympic venues will help athletes connect via video to see their families to replicate seeing them live in the crowd.
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