Rowers ready for crowdless Olympics

Olympia Aldersey says Australia's rowers have trained to perform without crowds at the Olympics.
Olympia Aldersey says Australia's rowers have trained to perform without crowds at the Olympics.

While some athletes have rejected an Olympics without the roar of a crowd, Australian rowers say they've prepared for it.

The rowing program at the Sea Forest Waterway gets underway on Friday morning before the Tokyo opening ceremony and will run for seven days with the first medals handed out on Tuesday.

Purpose-built for rowing and canoeing at the Games, the facility has a 2,000-seat permanent grandstand as well as space for a temporary grandstand for 14,000 more spectators .

But with Japanese organisers banning all spectators from venues in and around Tokyo, Australia's 38-strong rowers who are spread across nine boats, will compete mostly in silence.

Such restrictions were behind the likes of tennis star Nick Kyrgios pulling out.

Olympia Aldersey, part of the Australian women's eight who are considered a strong medal chance, said while disappointing fans couldn't line the course it wouldn't affect their performance.

Aldersey, who was also in Rio, said Australian crews had prepared for a crowdless regatta with coaches even prevented from yelling from the shore in Tokyo.

"We race a lot without crowds," Aldersey told AAP.

"The coaches won't be able to cheer or yell out on the side so we do often train like that, just to be able to push ourselves within our own crews and try not to rely on having a crowd or atmosphere.

"We have to be self-sufficient in that respect."

While they won't be able to cheer on their teammates, Australia's rowers intend making their presence felt in the boat park in Tokyo.

With 12 more rowers than they had in Rio, with the men's eight among the boats qualifying this time, Australia will have one of the biggest squads.

Nick Purnell, who is part of that crew, said it would be a show of force from the green and gold with most boats a genuine medal hope.

"Everyone has been in the mix in the last Olympic cycle so the whole squad is in a good place," Purnell said.

"Compared to London when I last competed when there were some crews who were going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to have a good performance, it seems like everyone is in a really good position."

Australian Associated Press