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US warns against travel to Japan ahead of Summer Olympics
May 25, 2021
The US is warning Americans not to travel to Japan due to a sharp surge in COVID-19 cases ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo this summer — even for those who are fully vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department both issued alerts Monday advising citizens against traveling to the East Asian country, although an outright travel ban was not put into effect ahead of the Games set for July 23 through Aug. 8.
“Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan,” the CDC alert reads. “Because of the current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Japan.”
If travel to Japan is unavoidable, travelers should get inoculated, wear masks and practice social distancing, CDC officials said. Any returning visitor should also take a viral test within three to five days.
Meanwhile, just 2 percent of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated.
In an effort to try to speed up vaccination rates, Japan tasked military doctors and nurses to dole out shots Monday to older adults in Tokyo and Osaka.
But calls in the country for the Games to be canceled continue to grow.
The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, which reps about 6,000 doctors, recently called for the Summer Olympics to be scuttled, while a petition calling for the same garnered 350,000 signatures in just nine days, CNN reported.
Tokyo and Osaka, as well as several other areas, remain under a state of emergency through at least May 31.
But the Games are still a go as far as the United States Olympics & Paralympic Committee is concerned.
In a statement Monday, the committee said it believes American athletes will be able to travel to Tokyo and compete safely.
“We feel confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff by both the USOPC and the Tokyo Organizing 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,” the committee said.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, meanwhile, has pledged to vaccinate the country’s 36 million elderly residents by the end of July — when the Games are set to start after a one-year postponement.