Tokyo Olympics: Special group of Kiwis finding a way to beat Olympics' spectator ban to support their families

The spectator ban at Tokyo makes for an Olympics like no other - with friends and family not there to share in the joys and the heartbreaks of the sporting pinnacle. 

But a special group of Kiwi athletes have managed to beat the ban and ensure their loved ones will join them in Tokyo after all. 

In the 88th minute of the Football Ferns' 2-1 loss to Australia, 20-year-old Gabi Rennie stepped onto Tokyo Stadium for her international debut.

Seconds later, with her first and only touch of the ball, Rennie scored New Zealand's only goal.

But even with no crowd in attendance, older brother Liam - a Newshub camera operator - led the applause. 

"I got told off, because I was cheering too much and there's a no cheering rule," Liam says. "You're only allowed clapping in the stands."

Liam Rennie wasted no time in video-calling family back home to share the glory of the moment. 

"Everyone else was warming down and I was like 'I definitely need to go see my brother," Gabi says. "It was so amazing."

Call it Kiwi ingenuity, call it genetics, but while the venues sit empty, some New Zealand supporters have made it to Tokyo - they just got their tickets the hard way, by qualifying. 

Equestrians Tim and Jonelle Price are married, triathlete Ainsley Thorpe is here with her brother, who's a reserve. 

Sisters Phoebe and Lucy Spoors are in the rowing squad, as are Jackie and Kerri Gowler.

"To be two sisters, in one team, in one boat at the Olympic Games is pretty rare," Kerri Gowler says.

Most athletes will only see their fans cheering them on via screens at the venues, which will display mosaics of short selfie videos, sent in from all around the world.

Sibling sailors - Alex and Andy Maloney, and Molly and Sam Meech - know that makes them the lucky ones. 

"Mum and dad would have loved to have come, but to be able to do it together is amazing," Sam Meech says. 

For hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe, dad Dave has been there for every step - and snooze - on the long journey to Tokyo, as her coach.

"It is really special," Ratcliffe says. "I get my No.1 fan to travel with me, so it doesn't matter too much for me that we don't have fans."

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