Tokyo 2020 organisers ban alcohol, defend allowing spectators

PBC News:  With 30 days to go until the start of an Olympic Games dogged by the coronavirus pandemic and by controversy, Tokyo Olympics organisers decided on Wednesday against selling alcohol at venues while defending plans to allow thousands of spectators.
Organisers have pushed ahead with preparations for the Games, postponed from 2020 because of the pandemic, despite strong concerns among the Japanese public that hosting delegations from across the globe could result in further COVID-19 outbreaks, reports Reuters.

Media reports that organisers were considering allowing alcohol consumption in Olympics venues provoked a public outcry earlier this week, with the hashtag “cancel the Olympic Games” garnering tens of thousands of tweets. read more

“Following experts’ advice, the organising committee decided against selling and drinking alcohol drinks at the venues so as to prevent spread of infections,” Tokyo Olympics President Seiko Hashimoto told reporters, adding that sponsor Asahi Breweries agreed with the decision to ban alcohol sales.

Alcohol sales have been restricted in and around Tokyo after health officials warned drinking would encourage close contact, loud speaking and mingling in bars that could help spread the virus.

Earlier, Hashimoto defended the organisers’ decision to allow spectators into Olympic venues.

Japanese medical experts have said banning spectators was the least risky option but also included recommendations on how best to host the Games if spectators were admitted.

Organisers said on Monday up to 10,000 domestic spectators would be allowed into venues. Foreign visitors are banned.

“We decided that it would be better to do the best preparations we can for a Games with spectators,” Hashimoto said at a media roundtable attended by Reuters on Tuesday, saying the decision was in line with the medical experts’ recommendations.

“Of course, I understand that holding the event without spectators would lower the risk, but there is evidence that there have been no clusters at other events and tournaments,” Hashimoto said.

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