US advises against traveling to Japan ahead of Olympics

The State Department on Monday issued an advisory warning Americans not to travel to Japan, just two months before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin in Tokyo.

A notice on the agency's website stated that a "high level" of COVID-19 was present in the country and urged Americans to avoid nonessential travel.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Japan due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into Japan. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Japan," read the notice.

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The Olympic Games are set to begin in Tokyo on July 23. Foreign spectators have already been banned from attending, but thousands of athletes and support staff are expected to attend.

The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment on whether the guidance differs for vaccinated Americans. Team USA did not immediately return a request for comment as to whether the advisory would affect U.S. participation in the Games.

News of the U.S. travel advisory comes as Japan's government is under growing pressure at home to cancel the games; last week, a group of roughly 6,000 doctors called on the government to do so, while public opinion polls have indicated strong resistance to the idea of the Games going forward as planned.

Some athletes have already seen their Olympic dreams end early this year before the opening ceremony even began. Three members of Australia's skateboarding team tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, resulting in the entire team being judged as being in close contact to infected persons and being disqualified as a result.
 
Health officials have opened up mass vaccination clinics in at least two cities in the past several days in an effort to ramp up the country's lagging vaccination program which has so far resulted in just 3.5 percent of its citizens being fully vaccinated.
 
“We will do whatever it takes to accomplish the project so that the people can get vaccinated and return to their ordinary daily lives as soon as possible," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday, according to The Associated Press.