• Jiji


The owners of some restaurants and bars in Tokyo are outraged as they will be forced to suspend serving alcohol again under a fresh COVID-19 state of emergency.

Owners are complaining of what they see as the double standards imposed by the government in banning alcohol while allowing the Tokyo Olympics to proceed as planned.

“I feel that, if they’re going to do the Olympics, we should be allowed to operate too,” said Takahide Akutsu, manager of an izakaya pub in Bunkyo Ward. “It’s hard to accept it even if they tell me to do so.”

Akutsu said that alcohol is a major factor that draws customers to the pub and that sales would plunge if it cannot be served.

Tokyo will be under the state of emergency from Monday through Aug. 22, a period that includes the entire duration of the Olympics.

“It’s a shock to not be able to serve alcohol,” said Masahiko Yamashina, owner of a yakitori chicken skewer restaurant in the Shimbashi district of the capital. “The last time we stopped serving alcohol, one customer scolded us.”

“There’s much to lose from obeying the ban,” he added.

One Shimbashi izakaya plans to continue serving alcohol during the state of emergency. Owner Yuka Fujishima said the public is “being sacrificed for the Olympics.”

“The government’s responses are made on a whim,” Fujishima said. “I’ll protect myself.”

A 51-year-old man from Nakano Ward said, “I think that the government wants to reduce infection numbers to hold the Olympics no matter what.” He said, “I really don’t understand why restaurants and bars are subject to restrictions but the Olympics can go on.”

As the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, the government and other related bodies agreed on Thursday that all venues in the capital will have no spectators, those who have tickets expressed frustration over the government’s response.

The decision was made only two weeks before the opening of the games.

Kazunori Takishima, who has almost 100 tickets to Olympic events, said, “I worked hard to make myself available for the events.”

The government’s response is “too late,” said Takishima, who runs a real estate firm in Shibuya Ward.

A woman in her 30s who has a ticket to a women’s soccer match expressed disappointment. “I had been excited about it ever since I won the ticket,” she said.

College student Taichi Nagao said the COVID-19 crisis has dragged on due to the government’s weak measures.

“I don’t think the latest declaration (of a state of emergency) will mean anything,” Nagao said.

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