The empty Olympic venues provide a rare opportunity for psychologists

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Tokyo Olympics update

Last Monday night, during a closely matched Olympic handball warm-up match, a lonely volunteer near the fire exit dropped her clipboard. In a way, this click is the loudest sound in Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

After a while, the brief sound of the clipboard was dominated by the squeaking of unmarked soles, the low growl of an angry coach, and the sound of the ball being slapped from one palm to the other. These are common sounds in fierce handball matches, but they are ridiculously amplified due to the absence of live audiences and the acoustics of Kenzo Tange’s architectural masterpiece.

However, these games will eventually be remembered by people. Sports psychologists have a truly unique case study in their hands. This may be close to a controlled experiment, that is, the way the audience affects the athletes, the intensity of the competition, and the viewer’s attitude. Resonating TV for everything.

Obviously, the Olympics are not alone. In the past 18 months, the sports world has adopted various temporary measures to adapt to the lockdown and other anti-coronavirus restrictions. Cardboard audiences, roaring crowd sound effects, and other gasps have been drafted to fill in the gaps.

The athletes and coaches interviewed by the Financial Times during the first week of the Olympic Games explained that the biggest difference is that the Olympic audience has always been unique in terms of size, enthusiasm and diversity. Organizers dare not try to artificially copy or replace this power, let the team fight with the effect, and test the theory that the audience has a measurable impact on the performance on the grandest stage.

The first full week of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics produced many versions of the Yoyogi Stadium phenomenon in different facilities and disciplines-splashes, pops, pops, muttering conversations, and other highest-level The details of international sports reverberate around the seats and stands that no one cares about.

Japanese organizers decided to hold an event without a live audience at the last minute-this is the first modern Olympics to do so.Now quickly The number of Covid-19 infections in Tokyo is on the rise Most of those who initially opposed the call have become dull. But the athletes have yet to give a clear answer as to whether it is a good thing to have no crowds. As with all Olympics, records have been broken, but the general observation is that some instincts, even gladiator things, have been taken away from the game. Among male and female beach volleyball players, the empty arena makes Cicada the protagonist of the soundtrack, and the differences of opinion are shocking. Ágatha Bednarczuk, a 2016 Brazilian medalist, said after winning the game last week that silence helped her focus.

The American men’s team described the same environment as an atmosphere of emptiness, which made the game difficult. Nick Lucena said: “We played a real exploratory game, without energy, a little flat”, while his teammate Phil Dalhauser added, “The entire Olympics was disappointing.”

Some athletes—especially those who prepare to train with false crowd noise before discovering that spectators will be suspended—see silence as a meaningful source of stress.

In some venues, there is only a strange silence. In other cases, coaches and accredited support staff try to fill the gap with echo (usually annoying) applause, while in other cases, organizers continue to play high-energy music between games to attract non-existent crowd. In a boxing match, a delegation from Uzbekistan managed to get the drums through security to enter the gallery of the National Gymnasium Stadium, achieving a pleasant-almost normalized-effect. Now that the track and field events are underway, questions about the impact of all this will be answered by the vacant seats in the largest and most crowded venue Tokyo provides.

In fact, if we are watching a huge accidental experiment, the most important revelation may be to reassess the practical significance of home court advantage.After an astonishing number of gold medals in the first week, Japan continued to rank higher than the United States, only to give up its Top of the list Go to China on Friday. Like other countries, it has very few representatives in the stands, and in many cases these delegations are much quieter than other contingents. “Perhaps because these are Japanese stadiums, it is easier for athletes to imagine that they are crowded with family supporters,” a member of the Japanese table tennis coaching staff shrugged.

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