U.S. Advises Against Travel to Japan Ahead of Tokyo Olympics Due to COVID: 'Even Fully Vaccinated Travelers'

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to start in July

Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Tokyo Summer Olympics logo. Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new travel advisory for travelers planning trips to Japan ahead of the Olympics this summer.

The Tokyo Olympic Games are set to begin on July 23, despite resistance due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

"Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan," the CDC advised Monday.

The organization has the country listed as level 4, which is "very high" in terms of COVID-19 infections.

"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," the CDC warned. "If you must travel to Japan, get fully vaccinated before travel."

Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Man in mask standing near Olympic rings in Tokyo. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty

Japan has had 720,000 cases of COVID-19, with more than 12,000 deaths from the virus. The country extended its state of emergency on May 14 after entering its third lockdown in April.

Despite increased calls from doctors and business leaders in Japan to cancel the Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has remained steadfast in the continuation of the Games as scheduled.

At a meeting for the IOC on Friday, John Coates, the Chair of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, said, "It has become clearer than ever that these Games will be safe for everyone participating and the Japanese people."

Olympic torch
Olympic torch. Aris Messinis - Pool/Getty

"After nearly eight years of hard work and planning, the finish line is within touching distance. It is testament to the hard work of the Tokyo 2020 organisers, including the Japanese Government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese people, that we are able to look towards the Opening Ceremony on 23 July with such confidence," he continued. "We will continue to work hand in hand with our Japanese partners to do everything possible to deliver safe and secure Games for everyone."

Coates added, "I know from my own athletes in Australia, how appreciative they are of the efforts of the Japanese people to give them the opportunity to live their dream despite the current situation."

He also told the Wall Street Journal "absolutely yes" when asked if the Games would take place even during a state of emergency.

Tokyo organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympic medalist, said in a statement, "Preparations for safe and secure Games are proceeding steadily, but I am aware that we must work all the harder to ensure that the people of Tokyo and Japan also feel that sense of safety and security."

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"In response to any concerns, we are moving forward to tighten our planning in three fields. First, tight limitations on the number of participants entering Japan. Second, tight enforcement of the code of conduct and of health monitoring. And third, a tight review and reconsideration of the Games-time medical system," she continued. "There are 63 days left until the Games. In that time, we will work unstintingly to implement these plans and deliver Olympic and Paralympic Games that are truly for everyone."

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The IOC also assured in the press release that 75 percent of the current Olympic Village residents are "vaccinated or have secured vaccination" and they estimated the number will climb to 80 percent before the Games begin.

If the Games continue as scheduled, they will begin on July 23 and end on Aug. 8.

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