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Tokyo Olympics organizers reverse plan to allow alcohol sale at venues

22 June 2021 21:12
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Tokyo Olympics organizers reverse plan to allow alcohol sale at venues

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - Tokyo Olympic organizers reversed an earlier plan to allow alcoholic beverages to be sold to spectators at competition venues during the global sports event as voices grew against apparent consideration for sponsors such as Asahi Breweries, sources close to the matter said Tuesday, Kyodo reports.

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Organizers earlier planned to allow alcoholic drinks at Olympic venues with some restrictions including time limits for selling them, as the Japanese capital readies itself for the start of the games in around a month.

«Given the characteristics of the event, the organizing committee will take into consideration the fact that there are stakeholders,» Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa said earlier Tuesday in a news conference.

A guideline on spectators for the Tokyo Olympics, due to kick off July 23, will be unveiled later this week. In its draft, organizers ask spectators to refrain from eating and drinking in groups in passageways at the venues, and to travel to and from venues directly without stopping anywhere, as part of measures to reduce the risk of virus spread.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the games organizing committee, said Monday the sale of alcoholic drinks to spectators is «being considered» but is dependent on whether people can be deterred from speaking loudly or shouting and whether they can observe safety protocols when moving inside the venues.

Rules currently in place for the general public in Japan will also be a factor in considering whether such beverages can be sold, she said.

But some lawmakers and medical experts voiced concerns about selling alcohol at venues as the country struggles to speed up the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and businesses in Tokyo grapple with curbs on serving alcohol.

Haruo Ozaki, the head of the Tokyo Medical Association, said in a news conference the organizers should not allow sales of alcoholic beverages at Olympic venues.

«Are the Olympics an exception, after having placed a burden of anti-infection measures on restaurant operators for so long?» Ozaki said, adding he wants the organizers to «rethink» the plan under consideration to allow spectators to drink alcohol.

In Tokyo and other prefectures that are currently under a quasi-state of emergency through July 11, serving alcohol at restaurants and bars is conditionally allowed until 7 p.m.

In the capital, people are now allowed to drink alcohol alone or in pairs for up to 90 minutes between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at restaurants and bars certified as having taken steps to control infection.

For areas under the state of emergency, the sale of alcohol at most sports events was banned, while there were cases of time-limited sales in areas under the quasi-state of emergency.

On Monday, the organizers decided venues can be filled to 50 percent of capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 spectators, following months of discussions on an attendance cap for local fans. Spectators from overseas had already been barred.

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