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Tokyo Olympic organizers to allow alcohol to be sold at venues

This June 21, 2021 photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter shows the Japan National Stadium, the main venue of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo Olympic organizers plan to allow alcoholic beverages to be sold to spectators at competition venues during the global sports event but with restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

    The decision was apparently made in consideration of a sponsorship contract with an alcoholic beverage company.

    Organizers will likely set time limits for such sales, the sources said, as the Japanese capital readies itself for the start of the games in around a month.

    A guideline on spectators for the Tokyo Olympics, due to kick off on July 23, will be unveiled later this week. In its draft, organizers ask spectators to refrain from eating and drinking in groups in passageways at the venues, and to travel to and from venues directly without stopping anywhere, as part of measures to reduce the risk of virus spread.

    Seiko Hashimoto, president of the games organizing committee, said Monday the sale of alcoholic drinks to spectators is "being considered" but is dependent on whether people can be deterred from speaking loudly or shouting and whether they can observe safety protocols when moving inside the venues.

    Rules currently in place for the general public in Japan will also be a factor in considering whether such beverages can be sold, she said.

    Also Monday, the organizers decided venues can be filled to 50 percent of capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 spectators, following months of discussions on an attendance cap for local fans. Spectators from overseas had already been barred.

    In Tokyo and other prefectures that are currently under a quasi-state of emergency through July 11, serving alcohol at restaurants and bars is conditionally allowed until 7 p.m.

    In the capital, people are now allowed to drink alcohol alone or in pairs for up to 90 minutes between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at restaurants and bars certified as having taken steps to control infection.

    For areas under the state of emergency, the sale of alcohol at most sports events was banned, while there were cases of time-limited sale in areas under the quasi-state of emergency.

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