The State Department’s warning, which followed the CDC alert, was more blunt. “Do not travel to Japan due to Covid-19,” it said in the announcement, which raised the department’s travel alert from Level 3 — Reconsider travel — to Level 4 — Do not travel. The previous alert was issued on April 21.
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said it still anticipates that American athletes will be able to safely compete at the Tokyo Games.
“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 in a statement Monday.
Earlier Monday, Japan mobilized military doctors and nurses to give shots to older adults in two major cities, as the government tried desperately to accelerate its vaccination rollout and curb coronavirus infections before it hosts the Olympics. That move came amid growing calls for the games to be canceled.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is determined to hold the Olympics in Tokyo beginning on July 23, after a one-year delay, and has made an ambitious pledge to finish vaccinating the country’s 36 million older people by the end of July.
Japan has recorded just over 12,000 Covid deaths — good by global standards, but poor in Asia — but Tokyo and Osaka and several other areas are under a state of emergency until May 31 that is likely to be extended.
There is fear of new variants spreading, with only a tiny percentage of the Japanese — estimated at 2% to 4% — vaccinated.