Olympic organizers ban alcohol, allow spectators to curb spread of covid

Olympic organizers ban alcohol, allow spectators to curb spread of covid

With 30 days to go until the beginning of an Olympic Games dogged by the coronavirus pandemic and by controversy, Tokyo Olympics organisers selected Wednesday against selling alcohol at venues while defending plans to permit thousands of spectators.

Organisers have pushed ahead with preparations for the Games, postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic, despite strong concerns among the japanese public that hosting delegations from across the world could end in further Covid-19 outbreaks.

Media reports that organisers were considering allowing alcohol consumption in Olympics venues provoked a public outcry earlier in the week , with the hashtag "cancel pandemic-hit-olympics-in-numbers the Olympic Games" garnering tens of thousands of tweets.

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

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

Earlier, Hashimoto defended the organisers' decision to permit spectators into Olympic venues.

Japanese doctors have said banning spectators was the smallest amount 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 might be better to try to to the simplest preparations we will for a Games with spectators," Hashimoto said at a media roundtable attended by Reuters on Tuesday, saying the choice was in line with the medical experts' recommendations.

"Of course, I understand that holding the event without spectators would lower the danger , but there's evidence that there are no clusters at other events and tournaments," Hashimoto said.

Organisers said on Wednesday they might choose whether to permit spectators in the dark sessions, taking infections under consideration , by July 12 when virus curbs are thanks to be lifted in Tokyo and a few other areas.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has still not ruled out holding the Games without spectators if Tokyo is replace under a state of emergency, from which it only emerged on summer solstice . The Games' opening ceremony is about for July 23.

"The major challenge at the Tokyo Games is to curb a flow of individuals and limit a way of celebration," Hashimoto said on Wednesday. "We are striving to form the Tokyo Games safe and secure, so it won't be filled with celebration."

Many Japanese remain sceptical about the likelihood of holding even a scaled-down Games safely during an epidemic .

In another blow to organisers' pledge that the Games are going to be safe, a member of the Ugandan delegation who arrived in Japan on the weekend tested positive for coronavirus despite having been vaccinated and testing negative for Covid-19 before arrival.

The nine-strong delegation cancelled their plans to coach and are currently quarantining during a hotel, local media reported.

Hashimoto said the incident was proof of the effectiveness of the coronavirus measures in situ.

"We were ready to identify this person at the border precisely because we've the right border measures in situ ," she said.

But the arduous preparations for the Olympics also seemed to have taken its toll on organisers.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike was hospitalised on Tuesday after the metropolitan government said she would take the remainder of the week off thanks to fatigue.

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