A series of high-tech devices are being tested this weekend with a view to Tokyo 2020 as fans head to the 32,000-seater Yokohama Stadium.
The venue - which is set to stage baseball and softball matches at next year’s Olympic Games - is hosting three baseball games at 80 per cent capacity, with the last potentially seeing the limit lifted altogether and a spectator permitted in every seat.
The Yokohama DeNA BayStars are taking on the Hanshin Tigers in the trio of Nippon Professional Baseball matches.
With the Japanese Government currently allowing stadiums to operate at 50 per cent capacity, the aim of the three-day experiment is to see whether it is possible to safely fill a venue with spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report by Channel News Asia, dozens of high-resolution cameras and sensors have been installed across the stadium to monitor mask-wearing and the movement of fans.
Carbon dioxide-monitoring devices and wind-speed measuring machines are also being used as part of COVID-19 countermeasures.
"We will report our findings here to the Government," Kiyotaka Eguchi, an official of the Kanagawa prefecture, said, as reported by the Associated Press.
"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."
It is understood the data will be analysed by Japan’s Fugaka supercomputer which has been used to simulate the spread of airborne droplets inside trains or classrooms.
With little known about how droplets spread outdoors or in an environment such as a stadium, it is hoped that the findings will enable Japan to formulate a plan for as many spectators as possible to safely attend Olympic and Paralympic events next year.
For the two games played so far in the trial, fans have been asked to install apps created to track who they come into contact with and inform them of any cases following the match, while officials used smartphone signals to see where and when crowds gathered.
"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," BayStars fan Tetsuya Nakamura said in a report by the Associated Press.
Tests are expected to be carried out next week at the 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome, home to the Yomiuri Giants.
Since the pandemic began, Japan has recorded almost 100,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,700 deaths.