On Monday, the U.S. State Department issued a Level Four: Do Not Travel advisory for Japan, urging Americans to exercise caution when travelling to the country just two months before it’s set to host the 2021 Summer Olympics.
In tandem with the State Department’s warning, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued its own separate guidance on Monday advising Americans to “avoid all travel to Japan.”
“The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Japan due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country,” the agency wrote in a Monday notice. “There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into Japan.”
The Summer Olympics — already delayed by a year due to the fallout from Covid-19 — are set to kick off on July 23 in Tokyo. The latest guidance from America’s government agencies has fuelled speculation about whether or not the nation’s athletes will have their ability to participate in the games affected, and whether U.S.-based spectators will now face obstacles to their attendance.
In a statement, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said that while it was aware of the updated guidance, it remained optimistic that Team USA’s ability to compete would remain unaffected.
“We feel confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff by both the USOPC and the Tokyo Organising Committee, coupled with the testing before travel, on arrival in Japan and during games time, will allow for safe participation of Team USA,” the Committee said.
Tokyo is currently struggling with soaring rates of Covid-19, and is currently under a state of emergency through May 31 — a deadline that officials expect to be extended. In Japan, the rate of vaccination is also scant, currently hovering somewhere just between 2 and 4 per cent.
The decision to add Japan to the Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory comes about a month after the United States updated that list to include roughly 80% of all countries globally, including nations such as Canada, the UK and Mexico.