Japan says US travel warnings against the virus will not hurt Olympic athletes

Tokyo — The Japanese government immediately denied the US warning on Tuesday to warn Americans to avoid traveling to Japan. It will affect the Olympic athletes who want to participate in the postponed Tokyo Games.

US officials have cited a surge in coronavirus cases in Japan caused by viral variants that may be dangerous even to vaccinated people. They didn’t ban Americans from visiting Japan, but warnings could affect premiums and whether Olympic athletes and other participants decide to participate in the game on July 23. There is.

Most metropolitan areas in Japan are in a state of emergency and are expected to continue until mid-June due to an increase in serious COVID-19 cases that are putting pressure on the national health system. It raises concerns about how the country can handle the arrival of tens of thousands of Olympic participants when hospitals remain stressed and most of the population is unvaccinated.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics banner
A man passing the banner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Tokyo on May 11, 2021. (Eugene Hoshiko / AP Photo)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference on Tuesday that the warning did not ban mandatory travel and that Japan believes that US support for Tokyo’s efforts to host the Olympics remains unchanged.

“I believe there is no change in the US position in support of the Japanese government’s determination to achieve the game,” Kato said. Washington tells Tokyo that travel warnings have nothing to do with the participation of the US Olympic team. He added that he said.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it still expects US athletes to be able to compete safely at the Tokyo Olympics.

Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, reiterated USOPC’s remarks.

“I know the USOPC said the recommendations didn’t affect the game,” she said. “I think it’s important to be ready to accept athletes under these restrictions.”

Although foreign fans were banned from the Tokyo Olympics a few months ago, athletes, families, sports professionals around the world and other stakeholders still represent a large influx of international travelers. In polls, Japanese citizens opposed holding games due to safety concerns while most people were not vaccinated.

US warning of visit to Japan
People walk in front of a screen showing news of US warnings about coming to Japan on May 25, 2021 in Tokyo. (Eugene Hoshiko / AP Photo)

A US warning from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “Due to Japan’s current situation, even fully vaccinated travelers can obtain and spread the COVID-19 variant. There is a risk of doing so and all trips to Japan should be avoided. “

The State Department’s warning was more straightforward: “Don’t travel to Japan for COVID-19,” it said.

China, which will host the 2022 Beijing Olympics, cautioned against traveling abroad.

“Currently, the world is still facing a serious situation of fighting COVID-19,” Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian said in a daily briefing on Tuesday. “To protect the health and safety of people, we advise the Chinese people to avoid unnecessary cross-border travel.”

Mari Yamaguchi

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