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August 12, 2019

Fans at Koshien finding ways to beat the heat

KOBE  (The Yomiuri Shimbun) — As hot as the action can be on the field, the soaring temperatures during the day can be dangerous for fans watching the games at the National High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

Amid the relentless heatwave, shops at the stadium began selling portable electric fans, cooling mist spray bottles and other items as part of efforts to prevent the crowd from suffering heatstroke.

The schools have also been playing a part, bringing containers of ice water into the stands to spray onto their supporters. In the dugouts, ice water is readily available for the players.

“There’s no roof over the stands, so my face fries in the sun,” said a 15-year-old high school girl from Kyoto, who had bought a portable fan a stadium shop on Thursday. “I wanted to have a fan.”

The box-shaped Koshien Mobile Fan, selling for ¥2,300, is about the size of a folding wallet. It can be hung from the neck by a string, allowing the airstream from the top part to blow onto the face. As it is designed to be hands-free, users can play musical instruments or concentrate on cheering on their team.

Cold mist spray bottles, at ¥700, which cool off users by spraying water mist over their clothes, are also selling well, not to mention bags of kachiwari crushed ice, a speciality at Koshien Stadium.

The tournament headquarters has also taken preventive measures against the heat. Prior to this year’s tournament, it spent ¥70 million to install 28 more air conditioners, bringing the total to 44, in the passageways leading to the “Alps” stands — the sections down the foul lines where the core of supporters sit — and the outfield bleachers. It also applied thermal barrier coating on the floor of the Alps.

Continuing from last year, organizers lent out sprayers for use in the stadium. Teachers or others man the pumps, walking around the stands to cool off the fans with spray. “It’s like being cooled off by rain,” one appreciative student said.

Some teams furnish the players with salt tablets to replenish lost sodium, and place buckets of ice water in the dugouts so that players can wipe themselves off with cold towels.

According to officials, in the six days from the start of the tournament on Tuesday, 118 people suspected of suffering from heatstroke or sunstroke have visited the stadium’s first-aid center.

Maximum temperatures in Nishinomiya are expected to remain above 30 C for the time being.

“It is important for the players to manage their health by staying hydrated and other methods,” an official of the Japan Weather Association said. “Fans, too, need to be aware of the necessity of replenishing fluids and salt.”