After the west harshly criticised Qatar’s decision to prohibit alcohol at World Cup stadiums, other mega-scale sporting event hosts appear to be following suit.
In an unexpected move that has sparked widespread debate, the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (COJO) has decided to impose a ban on the consumption of alcoholic beverages across all venues and competitions.
This decision, according to a report by Le Parisien, is in alignment with France’s Evin law of 12 January, 1991.
Article 49-1-2 of the Evin law, commonly known as the “Evil law,” states, “The sale and distribution of alcoholic drinks are prohibited in stadiums, physical education halls, gymnasiums and, in general, in all physical and sports activity establishments.”
Temporary exceptions may be granted under specific conditions set by decree for sporting, agricultural or tourist events.
However, to many, the regulation appears to resonate with a significant policy adopted during the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
The new Olympic guidelines bear striking similarity to those implemented during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where the country instituted a complete alcohol ban in stadiums.
This decision, aimed at ensuring safety and minimising public disorder, was met with mixed reactions. While some applauded the emphasis on family-friendly environments and public health, most Western media criticised the move as an infringement on personal freedoms and “traditional football culture”.
The so-called “Qatar World Cup Effect” now appears to be influencing other major sporting events, with the Olympic Games Organising Committee following suit.
The Evin law was not originally designed to restrict alcohol at sporting events. Instead, it was enacted to limit alcohol and tobacco advertising to protect public health, especially among young people.
This strict application of the law for the Olympics marks a significant shift in France’s approach to handling alcohol at large-scale sporting events.
This move by Cojo to ban alcohol might signal a new trend in international sporting events, one that emphasises safety, health, and perhaps a different kind of sporting atmosphere. This environment was proven to be possible to achieve without alcohol at Qatar 2022.
The decision underscores the evolving dynamics in hosting international sporting events, pointing towards a future where the focus is not just on the game but also on the well-being of the spectators and the public.
While the lasting effects of the Qatar World Cup and its influence on alcohol policies in major international events remains to be seen, the clear parallels in the policies of the Qatar World Cup and the forthcoming Olympic Games suggest a shift in global sporting culture may be underway.