The United States asked its citizens not to travel to Japan due to the epidemic, less than two months before the Tokyo Olympics, but the country’s government and the organizing committee confirmed this Tuesday that the recommendation will not affect the final period of the Olympiad.
“Because of Covid-19, do not travel to Japan,” the US State Department said, warning against traveling to that country, which was criticized for its slow vaccination rate.
– Level 4: “Don’t go” –
“Tokyo 2020 will continue to work closely with all relevant organizations to ensure the safe participation of all athletes in the Games,” the organizing committee responded in a statement.
“As far as we know, there is no change in the US position in support of Japan’s efforts” to host the Games, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato added.
The statement said that Washington’s decision was taken mainly for health reasons, but also for “secondary factors such as the availability of commercial flights, restrictions imposed on the income of American citizens and obstacles to obtaining the results of Covid tests within three days.”
Over the course of several weeks, the State Department has updated its warnings to travelers to adapt them to those of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, as a way to better combat the risks of the Coronavirus. The result: More countries are now rated at Level 4, “Don’t Go.”
In the case of Japan, which is experiencing a wave of coronavirus cases, the warning is especially important given the proximity of the games.
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“The categories of American travelers who will be able to go to Japan to participate in the Games will be very limited,” a US diplomatic spokesman told AFP.
“The Japanese government stressed that public health will remain its top priority in organizing the Games. Tokyo has assured us that it will continue close contact with Washington as its plans develop,” he said.
Japan opened its first mass vaccination centers in a hurry in the pre-Olympic campaign, which was canceled last year due to the epidemic. However, only 2% of the population of 125 million were vaccinated.
The US Embassy in Japan page stated that an American’s odds of entering the country are “extremely limited.”
The embassy wrote: “Travel for reasons of tourism or other short-term reasons is not authorized and there is no indication that this will change soon. Visa-free travel has been suspended.”
– Without discrimination with vaccinators –
“The government of Japan does not distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers in entry requirements related to COVID, and quarantine is applied regardless of vaccination status,” he added.
The US Olympic and Paralympic committees said in a statement that their “confidence” in the ability of athletes to participate “safely” in the Games was thanks to the organization’s actions.
Japan began administering the Pfizer vaccine to healthcare workers and over 65 years of age in February and hopes to conclude that phase when the games begin (July 23 – August 8).
Japan had relatively little impact from the epidemic with around 12,000 deaths, but a recent outbreak of infection has put pressure on the hospital system.
Tokyo, Osaka and eight other regions are in state of emergency and reduced business activity through the end of May. Press reports indicate that the procedures could be extended for another three weeks.
Most of the athletes and others who will reside in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated before their arrival in Japan, although vaccination is not a requirement to participate in the Games.
© 2021 AFP