The State Department and health officials are warning Americans against travel to Japan — which is preparing to host the Olympics in just two months — due to a of a surge in coronavirus cases in the country. The alerts don’t ban U.S. citizens from visiting the country, but they could have an impact on insurance rates for travelers and may factor into decisions by Olympic athletes and spectators on whether to compete in or attend the games, which are due to start in July. There was no immediate indication as to what effect the warnings might have on would-be Olympic-goers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new COVID-19 update: “Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan. 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.”  Following the CDC alert, the State Department announced: “Do not travel to Japan due to COVID-19.”  The State Department’s warning raised the department’s travel alert from a Level 3 -“Reconsider travel”, to a Level 4 “Do not travel.” The previous Level 3 alert was issued on April 21.

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said in a statement 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.”

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.

Editorial credit: StreetVJ / Shutterstock.com

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