It’s All Downhill From Here

You don’t want to mix vodka and sports. —Russian government official Ivan Polezhayev to the Wall Street Journal

Over the last few years, Russia has been taking a pro-active approach to its alcohol problem—a problem that is dragging life expectancy down to 69.7 years (versus, say, 83 in Japan). So raise the alcohol tax, restrict sales, ban advertising, and most definitely ban drinking inside sports arenas. The latter, however, doesn’t just count for Russian hockey games—it counts for Sochi, which is a problem.

Reports the Wall Street Journal:

Russia, whose most famous export may be vodka, is staging the driest Olympics in memory. For many fans, it is the biggest upset of the Winter Games. A new federal law last year prohibited the sale of alcohol inside sports stadiums and arenas. And a local ordinance last month banned alcohol sales within 50 meters of some sports venues.

Aside from the fans, there are other implications:

Alcohol sales restrictions were a deterrent to potential beer sponsors. Heineken was the official beer of the London and Athens Summer Games but had never sponsored the Winter Olympics. “I must say that, Sochi, we weren’t too keen to become the sponsor of the Winter Olympics,” and alcohol restrictions were one consideration, said Hans Erik Tuijt, the company’s Global Director of Activation.

The good news is outdoor events do allow for booze (the official beer of the Olympics, incidentally, is Baltika). So if you’re looking to get a drink, forget figure skating and head for the downhill.

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