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Olympic relief: Spectators may be allowed to bring own drinks into sweltering venues

Kyodo

Spectators might be allowed to bring their own bottled drinks into venues for the 2020 Olympics, marking a major departure from past security procedures, organizers hinted Thursday.

The step is among a raft of countermeasures proposed by the organizing committee to protect visitors, volunteers and athletes from the extreme heat and humidity of Tokyo’s sweltering summers.

Other measures include patrols by staff with first-aid training and the installation of “cool spots” that provide shade and cooling fans.

Ticketholders have been banned from bringing liquids into Olympics and other sporting events because of terrorism concerns and obligations to commercial sponsors. Organizers for the Tokyo Games say they will take safety and branding rights into consideration when formulating Japan’s rules on drink bottles, Tokyo 2020 Games delivery officer Hidemasa Nakamura said.

“We have set a number of conditions to allow spectators to bring their own bottled drinks,” Nakamura said.

“This is all aimed at making spectators feel as comfortable as possible, given they have come to see events in a very hot and humid environment.”

While Tokyo’s average summertime temperatures are similar to those of other recent host cities, including Beijing, the capital’s high humidity presents a challenge, Nakamura said.

To reduce the time spent undergoing security checks, organizers will distribute transparent plastic bags for people’s belongings in advance, Nakamura said.

They will also provide information about weather conditions and safety precautions through the official mobile app.

First-aid staff will be able to treat heat-related maladies on site or arrange rapid transportation to medical facilities when necessary, Nakamura said.

The measures, however, are still a work in progress, Nakamura emphasized, noting that organizers continuing to consult athletes and the governing sports bodies.

Some of the steps will be tried at upcoming test events, as well as at the popular Koshien summer high school baseball tournament, he said.

“We alone cannot come up with the best ideas. That’s why we’ve invited athletes and other groups, so we can get all kinds of comments about the best ways to fight the heat,” he said.

“The countermeasures include a specific focus on the elderly, children and international visitors,” Nakamura said, adding that the organizers will survey visitors to get a better idea about the kind of information spectators may need.

Nakamura said provisions would be made to cancel or reschedule events if extreme weather poses a significant safety risk.

“Generally speaking, if it becomes difficult to continue due to weather conditions, we do have some provisions, but they are not strictly defined by temperature or humidity levels,” he said.

The organizers announced in April that the men’s and women’s Olympic marathons would start at 6 a.m. to minimize runners’ exposure to the heat.