TOKYO (AP) – On the eve of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, government attempts to curb a wave of coronavirus by targeting drinkers are drowning in alcohol, frustration and indifference.
Japan has asked restaurants and bars in the city to close at 8 p.m., if not entirely, to prevent people from socializing in close contact with strangers and spreading the virus, but the state of emergency has none dissuaded a lot. Instead, drinkers have moved outside, and many bars in Tokyo’s famous nightlife districts are teeming with defiant patrons.
“No one is convinced when (the government) victimizes people who drink alcohol without showing decent scientific evidence, even going forward with the Olympics,” said Mio Maruyama, a real estate worker. 28-year-old who was chatting with his colleagues. in the street of the Shinjuku district of Tokyo.
She says she’s interested in watching the Games, especially new sports like skateboarding and Rui Hachimura of Japan, an NBA star, “but when I think of the way politicians play with it, I’m not. not quite rooted for this event of my heart. “
“It’s not that we are breaking the rules just because we are against the inconsistency between the words and actions of politicians,” she said, referring to a 40-person reception for Committee members. international Olympic Sunday which included the Prime Minister and the Governor. from Tokyo. “But when you see such things, you might think the offenders were right to do what they are doing.”
The IOC reception took place at a time when the public is prohibited from going to parties or even attending most Olympic events. Many Japanese are frustrated by this contrast – but hardly stay at home.
Around 9:30 p.m. in Shinjuku, people passed each other in front of the world’s busiest train terminal. Nighttime attendance was modest compared to before the pandemic, but bar districts like Kabukicho were still lit by neon lights from a few food establishments that were still open after 8 p.m.
Exempted from the state of emergency mandate, convenience stores open 24/7 were occupied by shoppers. Near one of the stores, drinkers were chatting with city workers wearing Tokyo Metropolitan Government green vests asking people to refrain from drinking and chatting outside.
On a quiet street in eastern Shinjuku, Naoto Suga picked up a can of lemon liquor that his friend had just brought him. They were sitting on the curb, along with a dozen others who were also drinking in the street.
“We’ve been here every night for about three days,” said Suga, 25, who works at a nearby clothing store.
“I don’t think the Olympics themselves made this (situation), but even before the Games things like the state of emergency were half measures, and I think that makes it worse.” , did he declare. “People are all used to the state of emergency, so it is becoming less meaningful now.”
Suga, who has yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, also lamented the slower rollout in Japan, especially for younger people. Anyone 12 years and older can be vaccinated, but the youngest are the last in line. So far, only 22% of the Japanese population has been fully vaccinated.
“To be honest, I am for the organization of the Olympic Games; it’s better than not doing it given the debt of the buildings on the site, ”he said. “But I don’t really have a specific sport that I want to watch. I lost interest.