(Washington) The United States on Monday advised its citizens not to travel to Japan, the host of the Olympic Games this summer, due to the risks associated with the Covid-19 epidemic.
The US State Department wrote, “Because of Covid-19, do not travel to Japan,” which raised the travel warning to the maximum warning level.
Over the course of several weeks, the department has been updating its travel warnings to align them with those of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), in order to better consider the risks associated with the Coronavirus. As a result, more countries are now classified as Level 4, “Don’t go there.”
But when it comes to Japan, which is two months away from the Games due to take place in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8, this warning is of particular significance. Especially since the holding of the global sports competition is still under discussion in the archipelago, part of which is subject to a state of emergency in the face of the fourth wave of COVID-19.
The State Department did not immediately say whether the decision might affect the preparation for the Games and the participation of American delegations.
“The categories of American travelers who go to Japan to participate in the Games are very limited,” a US diplomat spokesman told AFP.
The Japanese government emphasized that public health remains the central priority in organizing the Games. Tokyo assured us that it will remain in close contact with Washington as its plans evolve.
To justify its decision, Washington is citing the presence of COVID-19 “at a very high level in Japan,” as well as restrictions that “affect the entry of American citizens” into the country.
For its part, the website of the US Embassy in Japan states that Japan’s prospects for an American entry are currently “very limited”.
“No travel is permitted for tourism or for most other short-term reasons, and there is no indication that this will change anytime soon. Travel without a visa is suspended,” the embassy wrote.
“The government of Japan does not distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers in entry requirements related to COVID-19,” she adds, and “applies quarantine regardless of vaccination status.”
Japan is relatively spared the epidemic compared to other countries, with around 12,000 officially recorded deaths since early 2020, however, Japan is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases which is putting its medical system under stress.
Residents strongly oppose the holding of the games, but the organizers reiterate that strict anti-virus measures and a ban on foreign viewers will allow them to be held “in absolute safety.”
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