Games organizers on Wednesday acted to ban alcohol at events of the Tokyo Olympics in the face of concerns that an earlier proposal that merely limited drinking could contribute to a rise in coronavirus cases.
The decision by Games officials comes 30 days out from the start of the global sporting event. The fears surrounding drinking by spectators had sharpened calls for the rescheduled 2020 Games to be scrapped.
In its latest guidelines for ticket holders, the organizing committee of the Olympics and Paralympics moved to ban not only the sale of alcoholic drinks at venues but stipulated that spectators could not bring drinks with them. The prohibition announced on Tuesday adds to other health-driven restrictions against loud cheering, the giving of high-fives and towel waving.
In the wake of the earlier proposal that limited alcohol consumption by spectators, the public outcry led to the hashtag “cancel the Olympic Games” garnering tens of thousands of tweets this week.
“Realizing a safe and secure Games is what the organizing committee wants the most, and we are responsible for making that happen,” Hashimoto said.
“If the Japanese people have even a slight sense of worry, then we must give up,” she added.
Asahi Breweries, one of the Games’ major sponsors, had accepted the decision, Hashimoto said.
According to the guidelines, people who have a body temperature of 37.5 C or higher, or those who are aware they are displaying symptoms like fever, will not be permitted entry to Games events.
As part of broader efforts against the coronavirus, ticket holders will be asked to keep their ticket stubs or ticket data for at least two weeks after entering a venue. If anyone tests positive for COVID-19, the guidelines state that the date of the infected person’s attendance and his or her seat number will be listed on the Tokyo Games website and will be posted on social media.
With a month to go until the Games, most Japanese are far from convinced that the Olympics can be held safely due to the country’s low vaccination rate with COVID-19 cases on the rise.
As some 79,000 athletes, coaches, reporters and others from almost every country in the world prepare to descend on Japan, a Kyodo poll over the weekend showed that 86 percent of those surveyed worry that there will be a rebound in cases once the Olympics are staged.
So far, about one in every 161 people in Japan have tested positive for the virus but only 7 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, according to government data.
The rate is the lowest among developed countries, with about 18 percent of the population having received at least one shot, leaving Japanese vulnerable at a time when the Delta virus variant is on the rise.
With the Games on the horizon and criticism mounting, Japan started to speed up its vaccine campaign this month, administering nearly 1 million shots a day now compared with fewer than 100,000 doses in April.