Tokyo 2020 Olympics: alcohol ban, gun shots and autograph hunts for fans

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Alcohol, high-fives and loud talk will be banned for the reduced number of Olympic ticket holders allowed at venues, as organizers have conceded that a “sense of celebration” will be limited at already postponed Games. one year due to the coronavirus.

Organizers pushed ahead with preparations for the Olympics, still referred to as Tokyo 2020, despite strong concerns from the Japanese public that hosting athletes from around the world could lead to new outbreaks of COVID-19.

Media reports that organizers considering allowing alcohol consumption at Olympic venues sparked an uproar this week, with the hashtag “cancel the Olympics” garnering tens of thousands of tweets.

“As the organizing committee wants to organize the Games in a safe and secure manner, it is our responsibility to achieve this,” Tokyo Olympic Games President Seiko Hashimoto told reporters on Wednesday a month before the ceremony. opening July 23.

“So if our citizens have any concerns (about serving alcohol at the Olympics), I think we need to give it up. That’s why we decided to ban the sale of alcohol.”

Alcohol sales have been restricted in and around Tokyo after health officials warned alcohol consumption would encourage close contact and mixing in bars that could help spread the virus.

Sponsor Asahi Breweries said he agreed with the move to ban alcohol sales, calling the move natural.

Ticket holders, who will be selected in a new lottery after national spectators are limited to 10,000 spectators at each venue, will also be asked to refrain from speaking en route, to go directly to venues and then directly to home, and cannot ask athletes for autographs. .

“The major challenge at the Tokyo Games is to curb the flow of people and limit the feeling of celebration,” Hashimoto said. “We are working to make the Tokyo Games safe and secure, so it won’t be full of celebration.”

FEAR OF CONTAGION

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

Hashimoto defended the decision to allow spectators.

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

A limited number of fans attended at stadiums across Europe for matches of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament and thousands of spectators attended baseball matches in Japan.

Organizers said on Wednesday they would decide whether or not to allow spectators to nightly screenings, taking infections into account, by July 12, when virus restrictions are expected to be lifted in Tokyo and elsewhere. regions.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has still not ruled out holding the Games without spectators if Tokyo is returned to a state of emergency, from which he did not come out until June 21.

Many Japanese remain skeptical about the possibility of hosting even a small-scale Games safely during a pandemic, with 619 infections reported for Wednesday in Tokyo, up 118 cases from a week ago.

“I think it will not be possible to prevent contagion within the athletes’ village,” Masahiro Kami, director of the think tank Medical Governance Research Institute, told reporters.

“Due to the delay in the roll-out of vaccination in Japan, this means that people entering and leaving the Athletes’ Village… will not be vaccinated on time. “

In another blow to organizers’ promise that the Games will be safe, a second member of the Ugandan Olympic delegation, an athlete, has tested positive for COVID-19 in Japan, an official from the host city of Japan said on Wednesday. team, Izumisano.

The arduous preparations for the Olympics also appeared to have taken their toll on organizers.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was hospitalized on Tuesday after the metropolitan government said she would take the rest of the week off due to fatigue.

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