Skepticism grows over feasibility of 'nonsmoking' Tokyo 2020 Olympics


Residents and government officials in areas hosting Olympic events are concerned whether the blanket smoking ban planned at the competition venues will be properly observed during the 2020 Games.

The 2020 organizing committee has indicated a policy of applying blanket smoking bans on all areas of the competition venues during the quadrennial sporting event, including the new National Stadium in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

At Yokohama Stadium, which will host the baseball events, eight smoking areas on its premises, including those off-limits to fans, will not be used.

The Yokohama Municipal Government has designated most parts of the route between a nearby station and the stadium as a nonsmoking area, although there are two smoking areas nearby.

“I’d possibly sneak smokes at a different place,” said a 42-year-old female part-time worker from Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, who used the smoking area before going to see a ballgame.

Genkichi Enomoto, the 72-year-old secretary-general of the Kannai neighborhood association, which carries out cleanings at areas around the stadium, said, “There may be people smoking outside smoking areas and those discarding cigarettes as litter.”

During the events, the Yokohama Municipal Government plans to deploy staff members around competition venues to raise awareness of the nonsmoking rule.

But an official said, “It will be difficult for the municipality alone to implement measures.”

The government of the western Tokyo suburb of Chofu is also considering placing staffers around Ajinomoto Stadium, where soccer and rugby matches will be held.

“There’s no concept of outdoor smoking bans in foreign countries,” a Chofu official said. “We must hurry to raise awareness among foreigners.”

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