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Japan tries hi-tech experiments in bid to get more fans into sports stadiums

A baseball stadium in Yokohama will be used to test if its 32,000 seats can be filled safely.

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Atsuhiro Tanabe, a part-time stadium crew member, wipes seats of a baseball stadium, home for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, seen during a media tour in Yokohama, south of Tokyo on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. The tour was held to introduce device installed at the stadium to record behaviors of baseball audience members during a game for coronavirus control. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Atsuhiro Tanabe, a part-time stadium crew member, wipes seats of a baseball stadium, home for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, seen during a media tour in Yokohama, south of Tokyo on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. The tour was held to introduce device installed at the stadium to record behaviors of baseball audience members during a game for coronavirus control. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Atsuhiro Tanabe, a part-time stadium crew member, wipes seats of a baseball stadium, home for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, seen during a media tour in Yokohama, south of Tokyo on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. The tour was held to introduce device installed at the stadium to record behaviors of baseball audience members during a game for coronavirus control. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Officials in Japan are using some hi-tech devices to see if they can fill sports stadiums closer to capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The baseball stadium in Yokohama will be used this weekend in an experiment to test if its 32,000 seats can be filled safely.

Japanese professional baseball games are being played there, but are currently only using half the seats.

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A carbon dioxide detector in Yokohama stadium (Hiro Komae/AP)

A carbon dioxide detector in Yokohama stadium (Hiro Komae/AP)

AP/PA Images

A carbon dioxide detector in Yokohama stadium (Hiro Komae/AP)

On Friday – the first day of the three-day experiment – the crowd was capped at 16,000, but on Saturday and Sunday it is expected to reach a full house.

Officials are using high-precision cameras, carbon dioxide-monitoring devices and wind-speed measuring machines as part of measures against Covid-19.

“We will report our findings here to the government,” said Kiyotaka Eguchi, an official of the Kanagawa prefecture.

“The information we get here will be reflected in the guidelines, and that will also be used for the next year’s Olympics and professional baseball.”

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Stadium crew members clean seats at the stadium (Hiro Komae/AP)

Stadium crew members clean seats at the stadium (Hiro Komae/AP)

AP/PA Images

Stadium crew members clean seats at the stadium (Hiro Komae/AP)

The Yokohama stadium will be used as a venue for next year’s Olympics, which are to open on July 23.

“I think this is a good opportunity to take a step forward because if the stadium isn’t full, the team will be in trouble,” Yokohama BayStars fan Tetsuya Nakamura said.

About 1,750 deaths in Japan have been attributed to Covid-19, a relatively low number in a country of 126 million.

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