A man wearing a mask walks past a poster for the Tokyo Olympics, May 11, 2021.

While Japan is hit by a fourth epidemic wave, and the slowness of vaccination arouses multiple criticisms, the United States advised, Monday, May 24, its nationals to go to the country. “Due to Covid-19, do not travel to Japan”, wrote the US State Department [ministère des affaires étrangères], which raised its travel advisory to the maximum level of advisory.

For several weeks, the State Department has been updating its travel warnings to harmonize them with those of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), in order to better take into account the risks associated with the coronavirus. Result: a greater number of countries are now classified level 4, “Not to go there”. This decision is linked to the presence of the Covid-19 “At a very high level in Japan”. Relatively spared by the Covid-19 pandemic compared to other countries, with some 12,000 officially recorded deaths since the start of 2020, Japan is however experiencing an upsurge in Covid-19 cases which is putting its medical system under pressure.

To justify its decision, Washington also invokes the restrictions which “Affect the entry of US nationals” in the country. The website of the United States Embassy in Japan specifies that the possibilities of entering Japan for an American are already presently “Very limited”. “Traveling for tourism or for most other short-term reasons is not allowed, and there is no indication that this will change anytime soon. Visa-free travel is suspended », writes the embassy. “The government of Japan makes no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers in its entry requirements related to Covid”, and “The quarantine applies whatever the vaccination status”, she adds.

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Concern about the Olympics

Two months before the Tokyo Olympics (July 23 to August 8), this warning is of particular importance. Especially since the holding of the world sports competition continues to be debated in the Archipelago, part of which is under a state of emergency. Indeed, the population is strongly opposed to the holding of the Games, but the organizers keep repeating that very strict antivirus measures and the ban on spectators coming from abroad will make it possible to organize them. ” safely “.

The US State Department does not immediately say whether this decision may affect the preparation of the Olympics and the participation of US delegations. “The categories of American travelers going to Japan for the Games are very limited”, assured a spokesperson for the diplomacy of the United States to Agence France-Presse. “The Japanese government reiterated that public health remains the central priority in the organization of the Games. Tokyo has assured us that it will remain in close contact with Washington as its plans evolve ”, he specifies.

The United States Olympic Committee reiterated its ” trust “ as to the fact that American athletes could participate in sports competition, in particular thanks to the measures put in place by the organizers, which will allow “A safe participation of the American team this summer”, he said in a statement.

On the Tokyo side, the authorities are reassuring. Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato assured Tuesday that the recommendation of the American authorities would not affect the holding of the event. “To our knowledge, there is no change in the American position to support the efforts of Japan” to organize the Games, he said.

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The World with AFP

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