The Tokyo Olympics Bans All Alcohol Sales and Consumption at the Games

Tokyo Entertainment Tokyo2020 2021.06.25
This summer, the Olympic Games will go on, but alcohol sales will not.
This week the Japanese media reported another major announcement for the spectators planning to view the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in person: the Tokyo Organising Committee will be banning the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at Olympic events. While the stated reasoning behind this decision involves the reputation of Olympic sponsors, and of course general safety, it seems to be a response to mounting criticism.
Previously, the Tokyo Organising Committee announced a policy allowing alcohol sales at Olympic events and met with some immediate backlash. Critics of the event opposed the policy, citing the fact that COVID-19 is still spreading in Tokyo. Until recently, restaurants and bars in Tokyo were not supposed to sell alcohol, and even now both alcohol sales and general business hours are being restricted in an attempt to prevent the infection from spreading. "If we're still being asked to stay home and refrain from going out and drinking," some have asked, "is it really okay for the Olympics to be selling drinks?"
Much of the wrath from this controversy has been directed at Asahi Beer, an official sponsor of the Olympic Games. As the Tokyo 2020 Official Beer, Asahi's sponsorship contract gave them the exclusive right to sell beer and other alcoholic beverages at the Olympic events. But with recent restaurant liquor sales being limited, and alcohol sales already banned at most sporting events, allowing this sales policy to continue at the Olympics seems incomprehensible to many.
Criticism has come from a variety of politicians, and Toshihiro Nikai of the Liberal Democratic Party called on the Tokyo Organising Committee to make a change, saying "it's important to make alcohol bans clear, as a reminder for the residents of Tokyo." News outlets reported that the office of Prime Minister Suga also raised objections to alcohol sales at the Olympics.

Eventually, it seems Asahi Beer encouraged the Tokyo Organising Committee to make the policy change, and they officially released a comment stating that in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on alcohol sales all over Tokyo, it only seemed appropriate for the Olympics to enact similar policies, and that they would continue to support the Olympic Games. Bringing outside alcohol to the Olympic events has been banned from the start, so as the Tokyo Organising Committee has stated themselves, this new change in policy is a de facto ban on all alcohol consumption for spectators enjoying the Games. Between this and the recent shrinking of spectator numbers allowed at each event, those who make it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will certainly find it a unique experience.

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