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A big mistake? Or did someone have it out for Pommel Horse?

The NHK Cup is a national gymnastics competition that dates back to the 1960s and also serves as a qualifying event for gymnasts seeking spots on the Japanese national team at the Olympics and World Artistic Gymnastics Championship. Its position as both a figurative and literal springboard for young athletes, makes it a big draw for spectators as well.

This year’s event was no different, and with increasingly relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, the NHK Cup was finally expecting a relatively packed house. In fact, in the days leading up to the event, tickets were going fast for both the women’s and men’s events on 14 and 15 May respectively. In the case of the men’s event, so many were sold that additional seats were added on the third level of the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

However, when the competition was finally held, it was plain to see that the upper deck was empty and the second tier was only very sparsely occupied by spectators.

The reason for this disparity was revealed by a member of the Japan Gymnastics Association a few days later on 18 May. It turns out that during the period where tickets were on sale, a single person had reserved approximately 1,600 seats, mainly on the second level, but never paid for a single one.

According to the sales records, this person had made about 600 reservations for 14 May, and 1,000 for 15 May. The actual attendance for each day was 518 and 1,251, which means half of the expected tickets sales were made by one individual who ultimately didn’t pay for them.

The NHK Cup’s online reservation system was set up in such a way that people could claim seats but not have to pay until a later date. …continue reading