By Carmen Grau Vila
Tokyo, Jul 29 (EFE).- With the Olympic Games being held in the Japanese capital these year under pandemic conditions and with empty stands, many a fan may have wondered what is going on the sidelines of the matches in the empty sports facilities and how the event is being followed in Japanese households.
Many fans had speculated about the absence of the red and blue Olympic mascots from the live coverage of the opening ceremony, which was watched by as many as 70 million Japanese people out of a population of 125 million.
During the ceremony, a local viewer tweeted a joke about the mascots that went viral.
In the tweet, miniature versions of the Olympic mascot Miraitowa and Paralympic mascot Someity were shown sitting on a tatami (traditional Japanese mat) in front of a fan while watching TV and recovering from an illness.
Local media outlets also picked up the story and the coverage has given rise to hope that the mascots might feature in the closing ceremony on Aug. 8
As the games have begun in earnest, locals have thronged to shops selling official Tokyo 2020 merchandize in different parts of the city in order to buy souvenirs.
At one such shop at Sky Tree, a famous high-rise building in central Tokyo, the father of a family told EFE that he had been waiting for the Games to finally begin after a year’s delay.
“I couldn’t buy the t-shirts for my children in the correct sizes, almost nothing is left, by I hope they restock soon,” said the 36-year-old basketball fan.
The 40 sports facilities remain empty of spectators and few locals dare to venture nearby as access is strictly restricted and controlled by the Japanese police.