U.S. Warns Against Travel to Japan amid COVID-19 Spike Ahead of 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 25, 2021

The Olympic rings floating in the water in the Odaiba section is seen from a window of a water bus Monday, April 12, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

The Olympics are just two months away, but United States health officials and the State Department raised the travel alert for Americans looking to go to Japan to Level 4: Do Not Travel.

According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), the State Department moved the travel alert from Level 3: Reconsider Travel on Monday because of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan.

"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 United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.

The AP noted Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has not wavered in his push to host the Games and pledged to have the country's 36 million older people vaccinated by the end of July.

Forrest Brown and Michael K. Callahan of CNN reported Japan's vaccine rollout has been slow with about 2 percent of its citizens having received at least one shot.

In response, the government will open large-scale vaccination facilities in Tokyo and Osaka.

This is yet another development in the lead-up to an Olympics that are facing plenty of obstacles. Not only were the Games postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there also has been notable pushback against the event.

Brown and Callahan noted the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association called for a cancellation, while a petition calling for the cancellation of the Games received 350,000 signatures in nine days.

The Olympics are scheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8.