Japan launches remote cheering app to boost atmosphere in empty stadiums

When Japan’s coronavirus-hit football league finally resumes in a few weeks’ time, it will be in stadiums devoid of supporters. But a new smartphone app could mean the action won’t unfold in atmosphere-sapping silence. The Remote Cheerer system developed by the Japanese firm Yamaha allows fans following the match on TV, the radio or online to encourage – or berate – players via their smartphones, their voices reverberating around the stadium in realtime via loudspeakers. In a recent field test, users in multiple remote locations chose from a range of on-screen options that sent their cheers, applause, chants and boos into the 50,000-seat Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa via 58 speakers set up among the empty seats. The app does not, as yet, allow fans to question the referee’s eyesight, or the eating habits of players who struggled to stay match-fit during the league’s virus-enforced break. “Users were able to gain a sense of being present at the venue, even though it’s a massive stadium,” Yamaha said in a statement, adding that the system “demonstrated the ability to create a spectator atmosphere similar to that of a real match.

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