The organization has procured a strange ambient sound coming out of the megaphones. The classic murmur of when a team stalks the opposing area is heard on a throw-in. Or, suddenly, there are many whistles on a goal kick from the Japanese goalkeeper.
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It takes about an hour by bus from Tokyo Bay, where most of the Olympic Games venues are, to Saitama Stadium, which shares its name with the city and prefecture where it is located. The trip is worth it because there is a good football game. A Japan-Spain. Semifinals. The host who has reconciled a part of the apathetic Japanese with their Games, against one of the favorite teams to win the gold.
Having the appropriate accreditation to enter and with plenty of time to settle in the press box with a privileged view of an empty super stadium, it is only worth missing the first minutes of the game to chat for a while with the young man. Hiroki. He will not see it because he is one of the volunteers of the Games who has had to stay outside to ensure that no pretentious fans sneak into the stadium by breaking the anti-Covid regulations.
“We have drawn lots among several volunteers to see who can go up to the stands. I feel sorry because I really like football. I’m from Bara and I wanted to see everyone play on the same field. Pedri already Kubo. Then I’ll play the repeat game at home, “he says.
We met Hiroki last week working on a golf course that is the Olympic venue for that sport, which is close to the soccer stadium. And he’s been to some basketball games on the Super Arena court, also in Saitama. He has worked a lot. And free. Because the organization only gives the volunteers food and a 1,000 yen (7.7 euros) ticket per day for transportation.
But the interesting thing is that Hiroki put us in contact with his grandmother for the first time, Keiko ogura, which is a Hibakusha. It is the term used to define the 136,700 survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs that remain alive.
Keiko is 84 years old and has been one of the official narrators of what happened in Hiroshima for decades just this Friday 76 years ago. She has traveled all over Japan, giving talks in colleges and universities, so that young people like her grandson know her story and that of other survivors, so that the horror that occurred does not fall into oblivion.
But this story is not about a nine-year-old girl who saw a white flash and then black rain fall after the first atomic bomb, nor about the charred corpses that she had to dodge to get home to see if her parents were alive.
Here we are to talk about the game. But the first part has been so inspiring that any notes on Keiko Ogura are more interesting when writing these first paragraphs during the break. His grandson Hiroki has not missed any dance of his admired Pedri and Kubo on the grass of Saitama.
WHISTLES THROUGH THE SPEAKERS
The boredom of the first 45 minutes is also accompanied by the absence of an audience in a stadium that has capacity for 63,700 people. And that the organization has sought a strange ambient sound that comes out through the megaphones, but that does not go according to any set of the game. The classic murmur of when a team stalks the opposing area is heard on a throw-in. Or, suddenly, there are many illogical whistles in a Japanese goalkeeper’s goal kick.
The first moment of the game in which there is some real nerve in the stands is when the referee consults the VAR to rectify his decision to whistle a penalty in favor of Spain in the 55th minute. At that moment, the Japanese journalists jump out of their seats and start clapping and cheering. At least someone has perked up a bit in Saitama’s sleeping temple.
“This is the stadium of one of the best historical teams in Japan, Urawa Red, and it was built for the 2002 World Cup,” he explains. Miyaka daisuke, from the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Sports.
Every time the end of the second part approaches, Miyaka and his colleagues are getting more and more in the role of ultras when they see that Japan is not only putting up with a superior team like Spain, but has arrived a couple of times. with danger to the rival area.
Now the false ambient sound is no longer necessary because Japanese journalists applaud so much a failed heads up of Rafa mir in minute 75 ‘, like a good run from his striker, Daichi hayashi, to pressure Unai Simn at the ball exit.
End of 90 minutes. Goalless draw celebrated by the Japanese. The game in overtime maintains the infamous rhythm until the left foot of Asensio. “You don’t deserve it. Japan was playing better,” Miyaka says very calm and polite.
Because the Japanese, even if they try to put on the costume of ultras, almost never get angry.