Japan cheers for virtual app-lause

Japan’s soccer J-League is ready to resume its season with games played behind closed doors, and fans cheering — or booing — via a smartphone app. (AP)
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Updated 28 May 2020

Japan cheers for virtual app-lause

  • Yamaha unveils smartphone app that will bring empty sports stadiums to life — at the touch of a button

TOKYO: A new Japanese smartphone app will allow fans to send virtual cheers and jeers to sports stadiums in the hope of creating atmosphere at matches played behind closed doors due to coronavirus.

Instrument maker Yamaha said that its remote cheering system will let users tap buttons on the app to deliver cheers — or boos — via dozens of speakers placed inside grounds.

Event organizers can pre-set various types of cheers and jeers, and change the intensity levels depending on the number of users pressing their buttons — aiming to replicate the roar when a goal or home run is scored.

Even when a live audience is permitted, fans may still use the app to prevent potentially coronavirus-laden droplets flying through the air through shouting.

They can pick which side of the stadium to send their chosen cheer or jeer, and can remotely join chants that only designated users can begin.

The company originally planned to launch the app in later this year, but accelerated its development after the coronavirus forced sporting events to be canceled or played without fans.

Yamaha said that a recent test of the system at a 51,000-seat stadium produced a sound similar to that of a live crowd.

The company deployed 58 speakers at the Ecopa Stadium and invited officials from football teams Jubilo Iwata and Shimizu S Pulse to send in remote cheers and boos.

“I feel that this system will encourage players on the field by making them feel like their fans and supporters are nearby,” Jubilo’s business strategy official Hiromi Yanagihara said in a statement issued via Yamaha.

The firm said the system can also be used in the future by those unable to attend matches.

Yahama spokesman Kenji Arakawa said the app could be used for other events and they were receiving enquiries from multiple fields.

“This might be used at music concerts, theaters or comedy shows. Especially in comedy acts, audience reaction is essential,” said Arakawa.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently lifted the state of emergency for the entire nation, but he still urged organizers of major events to use caution to prevent new infections.

Japan’s professional baseball teams are preparing to start their new season behind closed doors from June, three months later than the original schedule.

Football’s J-League kicked off the season for one weekend in February before suspending it, with local media speculating the season will reopen in late June or early July, with early games likely to be played without fans.


Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

Updated 35 min 2 sec ago

Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

  • QNB net profit in the 2nd quarter plunged 25.8%

DOHA: Qatar National Bank, the largest lender in the Middle East, said Sunday its net profits for the second quarter sank over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
QNB net profit in the second quarter plunged 25.8 percent to 2.84 billion riyals ($780 million) compared to $1.05 billion in the same period a year ago, the bank said in a statement.
The first quarter net profit of QNB, which has operations in 31 countries including Turkey, Indonesia and India, dropped only slightly.
Its net income in the first six months of the year also dipped 13.6 percent to $1.76 billion from $2.04 billion a year ago, it said.
The bank said it increased the loan loss provisions by $320 million in the first half to safeguard itself from any adverse shocks from the pandemic, thus affecting its profitability.
Total assets rose 10 percent to $267 billion on June 30, making it the largest lender in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of assets.