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Tokyo Olympic organizers set to OK own water bottles inside venues: source

Passersby rest on a bench equipped with mist showers to get a break from the summer heat, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Sept. 10, 2019. (Mainichi/Ryo Yanagisawa)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee is moving to allow spectators at the 2020 Games to bring their own water bottles inside venues in an effort to beat the scorching summer heat, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

According to a source close to the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the organization is in the process of finalizing the decision to allow spectators to bring one plastic bottle of beverage or water bottle per person to game venues. While recent Olympic games have banned beverages bought or prepared outside to be taken into venues as a counterterrorism measure and so spectators can buy drinks from vendors in the stadiums, the Tokyo committee is prioritizing the heat preventive measure as heat stroke is becoming an increasingly serious issue in Japan in summer.

The committee has been discussing about allowing visitors to the games to bring in their own drinks as the venues are expected to be crowded. The source says that beverages brought from outside the venues will be tested for their safety by having the visitors drink some of what they bring at security checkpoints.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Co., the International Olympic Committee's worldwide partner, has an exclusive distributorship to sell non-alcoholic beverages at Olympic venues. The Tokyo 2020 committee has been in talks with the American beverage giant to try and protect its rights. Coca-Cola reportedly has shown its understanding to the plan to let visitors bring in their own beverages.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will also call on spectators to hydrate themselves near the entrance of venues and distribute bottled beverages free of charge to visitors. To pay consideration to Coca-Cola's distributorship rights, the Tokyo government will only hand out their products. Tokyo is expected to spend hundreds of millions of yen on purchasing Coca-Cola products.

During the 2019 Rugby World Cup, food and drinks brought from outside were initially banned at venues to protect the rights of sponsors, but the policy was changed after refreshments were sold out mid-match at numerous venues.

(Japanese original by Hitoshi Kurasawa, Sports News Department)

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