Rugby

World Cup lifts stadium food ban after long lines spur complaints

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The 2019 Rugby World Cup organizing committee announced on Monday that it has modified its in-venue food policy amid a shortage of provisions at stadium food stalls, which has caused confusion and chaos for attendees across the country since the event kicked off last Friday.

The organizing committee said in a statement that ticket holders would now be able to bring a “reasonable amount of food” into the stadiums “for personal consumption.” It added that the change would “strictly” apply to food and restrictions on bringing beverages into venues remain “firmly in place.”

The committee stated that the tweaked policy would be in effect for all the remaining games, starting with Monday’s contest between Wales and Georgia at City of Toyota Stadium.

“This decision has been made to ensure the best possible matchday experience for all fans,” the organizers said. “While the Japan 2019 Organising Committee, in partnership with venue and catering operators, undertook a significant program to increase the capacity of in-stadia food concessions, the opening weekend demonstrated that service levels were not befitting the high standards of a Rugby World Cup, with some fans experiencing queueing delays and some vendors prematurely running out of some food options.”

The committee explained that a “reasonable amount of food,” is about “the size of a bento box or similar.”

It also said the policy change would only affect match venues, not the 16 fan zones, which are the responsibility of the host cities.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, some fans were frustrated by the restrictions as well as waits of over an hour at concourse concession stands.

Hideo Sakamoto watched the tournament opener between Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium on Friday along with his family. The 48-year-old company employee said that while he stayed in his seat, his wife and child were unable to return to their seats in time for the opening ceremony.

“After an hour and a half or so, she phoned me saying, ‘We’re not going to be able to go back until (after) the opening ceremony,’ ” the Osaka resident said before Sunday’s Ireland-Scotland game at International Stadium Yokohama. “And I said, ‘What did you guys come here for? You better watch the opening ceremony. And then my wife responded, ‘You can drink beers but we can’t.’ “