Tokyo Olympics: Citing Covid risk, US warns against travel to Olympic host Japan

Tokyo Olympics: Two months before Summer Games, Tokyo set to extend state of emergency to June 20 even as new infection rate slows down
Tokyo Olympics: Two months before Summer Games, Tokyo set to extend state of emergency to June 20 even as new infection rate slows down

Tokyo Olympics – ‘US Government health advice – Don’t travel to Japan’: The US State Department on Monday issued an advisory recommending its citizens not to visit Japan due to a surge in coronavirus cases, raising its travel alert to the highest level of 4 just two months before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee played down concerns that the latest development would affect the participation of American athletes in the global sports event, which continues to face safety questions amid the ongoing pandemic.

“We feel confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff…coupled with the testing before travel, on arrival in Japan, and during Games time, will allow for safe participation of Team USA athletes this summer,” the committee said in a statement.

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Japan has already decided not to allow overseas spectators and volunteers to enter the country for the games, scheduled to be staged from July 23.

Tokyo Olympics: Why American Government has issued this advisory before the Olympics?

The warning came in a travel advisory issued by the State Department as Japan, which has been criticized for its slow inoculation rate, opened its first mass vaccination centers in a push ahead of the Olympics, which were postponed last year due to the pandemic.

The decision was based primarily on government health advice, as well as “secondary factors such as commercial flight availability, restrictions on US citizen entry, and impediments to obtaining Covid test results within three calendar days,” the advisory said.

Just two percent of Japan’s population of 125 million has been fully vaccinated so far. It began giving the Pfizer shot in February first to medical workers and then over-65s, whom the government aims to finish inoculating by late July, when the Olympics begin.

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But ministers say the Games do not figure in their rollout schedule, and no date has been announced for other age groups.

Japan has seen a relatively small coronavirus outbreak, with around 12,000 deaths overall, but a recent surge in infections has put hospitals under strain.

Tokyo Olympics – ‘US Government health advice – Don’t travel to Japan’: Tokyo, Osaka and eight other regions are under a state of emergency curbing commercial activity until the end of May, with reports saying the measures could be extended for another three weeks.

Public opinion is largely opposed to holding the Olympics this summer but organizers say the event can be held safely.

The majority of athletes and others staying in the Olympic village will be vaccinated before they enter Japan, but inoculation is not required to participate.

IOC chief Thomas Bach even called for sacrifices to fulfil the Olympics dream. “Everyone in the Olympic community has to make sacrifices in order to adapt to this unprecedented situation. All measures were taken to keep the focus on the essentials of Olympic Games: the sporting competitions, so that the athletes can make their Olympic dreams come true,” Bach said.

IOC Vice President John Coates also walked on similar lines, saying that virus or not, the Tokyo Olympics will be held at any cost.

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