The US has advised its citizens against travel to Japan, just two months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
The US State Department’s “do not travel” advisory did not mention the Olympics specifically but advised against travel to Japan now, due to the coronavirus situation in the country.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added: “Because of the current situation in Japan even fully-vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Japan.”
But Japanese officials said they did not expect the advisory to affect the Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on 23 July, having been postponed last year.
Olympic Minister Tamayo Murakami said: “At present, we can see no particular impact.”
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee added: “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 athletes this summer.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato added: “There is absolutely no change in the United States’ support for Japan’s decision to hold the Olympics, we believe.”
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Japan initially escaped the large number of virus infections seen in many other countries but the current wave has prompted states of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities.
Some 715,940 infections and 12,308 deaths from the virus have been recorded, but Japan has not even vaccinated 5% of its population – making its vaccination programme one of the slowest in the developed world.
Surveys have been published in Japan showing that a majority of people in the country think the Olympics should be postponed again or even cancelled due to concerns about the pandemic.
International spectators will not be allowed in to Japan to see the event but a decision has not yet been made about domestic spectators.