Japan has avoided the large-scale epidemics suffered by many other countries, but a fourth wave has led to states of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and eight other regions across the country of 125 million people.
The government was leaning towards extending the emergency status – which is expected to end on May 31 in most places, including Tokyo – several sources familiar with the decision told Reuters news agency.
The State Department said its decision on Monday was primarily based on the government’s health advice, as well as “secondary factors such as the availability of commercial flights, restrictions on entry for U.S. citizens and barriers to getting COVID test results within three calendar days, ”the notice said. .
Japan opened its first mass vaccination centers on Monday in a bid to speed up its national vaccination program. So far, only 2% of the Japanese population has been fully vaccinated.
Senior Japanese officials said Tuesday they did not expect the United States travel advisory to affect the Olympics, which are due to begin on July 23, and that US support for the Games has remained unchanged.
“At present, we cannot see any particular impact,” Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said at a press conference.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has also downplayed the effect of the travel advisory.
“We are confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff … coupled with testing before travel, upon arrival in Japan and during the Games, will allow safe participation of the athletes on the team. American this summer, ”he said in a statement. declaration.
Japan intends to finish vaccinating its over-65s by the end of July, when the Olympics begin, but ministers say the Games are not on their deployment schedule and that no date is set. has been announced for other age groups.
In Tokyo, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said the US opinion would not affect the Olympics.
“We understand that there is no change in the position of the United States to support Japan’s efforts to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said in a regular briefing.
He said Japan had been informed that the notice would not affect the US Olympic team and noted that the measure was not a ban.
Japan has reported around 12,000 deaths since the pandemic began more than a year ago, but a recent spike in infections has put a strain on hospitals.
Public opinion is widely opposed to holding the Olympics, which have already been delayed for a year.
International spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan to attend the Games, but a decision has yet to be made regarding domestic spectators.