Tokyo’s drinkers drown frustrations over virus limits, Games

Jul 20, 2021, 9:07 AM | Updated: Jul 21, 2021, 12:58 am

TOKYO (AP) — On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, the government’s attempt to curb a coronavirus surge by targeting drinkers is drowning in liquor, frustration and indifference.

Japan has asked the city’s restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m., if not entirely, to keep people from socializing in close contact with strangers and spreading the virus, but the state of emergency hasn’t deterred many. Instead, drinkers moved outdoors, and many bars in Tokyo’s famed nightlife districts are bustling with defiant customers.

“Nobody is convinced when (the government) victimizes people who are drinking alcohol without showing decent scientific evidence, even while going ahead with the Olympics,” said Mio Maruyama, a 28-year-old real estate industry worker who was chatting with her colleagues on the street in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district.

She says she’s interested in watching the Games, especially new sports like skateboarding and Japan’s Rui Hachimura, an NBA star, “but when I think of how politicians are playing around with this, I’m not quite rooting for this event from my heart.”

“It’s not that we are breaking the rules just because we’re against the inconsistency between politicians’ words and actions,” she said, referring to a 40-person reception for International Olympic Committee members on Sunday that included the prime minister and the governor of Tokyo. “But when you see such things, you might think that rulebreakers were right in doing what they’re doing.”

The IOC reception happened at a time when the public is barred from going to parties or even attending most Olympic events. Many Japanese are frustrated by that contrast — but are hardly staying home.

At around 9:30 p.m. in Shinjuku, people crisscrossed in front of the world’s busiest train terminal. Nighttime turnout was modest compared to before the pandemic, but bar districts like Kabukicho were still illuminated with neon lights from a few food establishments that were still open after 8 p.m.

Exempted from the emergency state mandate, 24/7-open convenience stores were busy with shoppers. Near one of the shops, some drinkers were talking with city workers wearing green Tokyo Metropolitan Government vests who were asking people to refrain from drinking and chatting outside.

On a quiet street in east Shinjuku, Naoto Suga picked up a can of lemon-flavored liquor that his friend had just brought him. They sat on a curbside, along with around a dozen others who were also drinking on the street.

“We’ve been here every night for the past three days or so,” said Suga, 25, who works in a nearby apparel shop.

“I don’t think the Olympics itself made this (situation), but even before the Games, things like the state of emergency have remained half measures, and I think that’s making things worse,” he said. “People are all used to the state of emergency, so it’s getting less meaningful now.”

Suga, who hasn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine yet, also lamented the slower rollout in Japan, especially for younger people. Everyone 12 and older is eligible to be vaccinated, but younger people are last in line. Only 22% of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated so far.

“To be honest, I’m for hosting the Olympics; it’s better than not doing so given the debt of venue buildings,” he said. “But I don’t quite have a particular sport I want to watch. I’ve lost interest.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Avila scores 16, Indiana State knocks off Drake 75-73

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Robbie Avila’s 16 points helped Indiana State defeat Drake 75-73 on Wednesday night. Avila had eight rebounds for the Sycamores (7-1). Cameron Henry scored 14 points while shooting 2 of 6 from the field and 10 for 12 from the line. Courvoisier McCauley recorded 12 points and was 5 of […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Stephens scores 27 as Chattanooga beats Tennessee Tech 81-74

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jake Stephens scored 27 points as Chattanooga beat Tennessee Tech 81-74 on Wednesday night. Stephens added 10 rebounds and six assists for the Mocs (4-3). Dalvin White shot 5 for 7, including 5 for 6 from beyond the arc to add 17 points. A.J. Caldwell recorded nine points and finished 3 […]
19 hours ago
Purdue center Zach Edey (15) shoots over Florida State forward Cameron Corhen (3) during the first ...
Associated Press

Edey scores 25 points, No. 5 Purdue beats FSU 79-69

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Zach Edey scored 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting as No. 5 Purdue fought off Florida State 79-69 on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Edey, who came in averaging 21.7 points on 61.5% shooting, recorded his sixth straight game scoring 20 or more for the Boilermakers (7-0). The 7-foot-4 center […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Mikesell leads No. 4 Buckeyes past No. 18 Louisville 96-77

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — t In a battle of teams with similar styles, the Buckeyes (7-0) survived a sluggish first half to mount the comeback. They used a 14-0 fourth quarter run to take command. It was one of two big second half runs they enjoyed as the Buckeyes shot 66.7% in the second half. […]
19 hours ago
Ohio State's Brice Sensabaugh (10) drives against Duke's Ryan Young (15) during the first half of a...
Associated Press

No. 17 Duke tops No. 25 Ohio State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Freshman Kyle Filipowski had 16 points, including a key three-point play with 2:37 left, to help No. 17 Duke beat No. 25 Ohio State 81-72 on Wednesday night in the final ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Jeremy Roach added 13 points for the Blue Devils (7-2), who had a strong stretch late in […]
19 hours ago
Virginia Commonwealth guard Zeb Jackson (2) steals the ball from Vanderbilt guard Tyrin Lawrence (0...
Associated Press

Baldwin returns in style for VCU; Vandy’s Stackhouse ejected

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Ace Baldwin returned from a four-game absence to score a career-high 28 points and VCU held off Vanderbilt 70-65 on Wednesday night in a game in which an enraged Commodores coach Jerry Stackhouse was ejected. Baldwin, the Rams point guard, was back on the floor after being sidelined with a right […]
19 hours ago
Tokyo’s drinkers drown frustrations over virus limits, Games