by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH
HALAL food manufacturers have been forced to pull the plug on their deals to supply food and beverage ( F & B ) products at the Tokyo Olympics following the organisers ’ decision to scale down the number of athletes and spectators .
Flavor Innovation Sdn Bhd ( FISB ) MD Ahmad Husaini Hassan said it was impractical to pursue the food catering contracts as the games ’ spectatorship ’ s new development will remove halal food manufacturers ’ target market .
“ I believe Malaysia ’ s chapter in pursuing the contract deals to supply halal food is over , and FISB is certainly no longer pursuing the contracts ,” he told The Malaysian Reserve ( TMR ).
“ It is not practical because the spectators are now limited , and with the new rules of excluding foreign audiences , the 30-40 per cent Muslim spectators that we were targetting before are gone .”
Last week , the organisers for both Olympics and Paralympics decided to exclude foreign spectators from entering the events , pulling back hundreds of thousands of tickets purchased overseas .
Japan has restricted the number of live audiences at significant events to 5,000 , only seven per cent of the 68,000 seat-capacity of the Japan National Stadium , the main venue for Olympic and Paralympic Games this year .
Ahmad Husaini added FISB also did not entertain the possibility of providing food for Olympic ’ s athletes as there are still uncertainties in the participation and which countries will compete .
“ So , it is a no-deal for us now because the participation of Muslim athletes is very minimal , and some countries are not even sure whether they are going to participate .
“ From what we know , the meals that will be provided for the athletes are enough , and with the spectators being minimal , the organisers might not need us anymore .
“ It is a blessing in disguise for us because should the Covid-19 pandemic happen a month later , then it would be trouble for us because we would have started production by
then ,” he said .
Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Hiroshi Oka had also recently said efforts and development relating to the games were all pointing to the organising committee ’ s commitment to making sure that the Olympics and Paralympics could be held in July-August .
“ The games ’ schedule and venues were decided by the International Olympic Committee ( IOC ) last year , and the opening ceremony will take place on July 23 .
“ However , we do understand that the Covid-19 coronavirus is a big challenge for us in terms of how to enhance the preventive measures and make sure all the participants will be safe ,” Oka said .
He added the ruling on the games will be decided by springtime .
“ We are waiting for the actual announcement from the IOC and the local Olympic organising committee ,” he told The Malaysian Reserve ( TMR ).
Oka said the organising committees for the games were conducting an in-depth study on the audience aspect ’ s problems , taking into account Japan ’ s infection rate .
FISB , which markets products under the