Does U.S. State Department's Japan travel advisory affect the Tokyo Olympics?

·2-min read

Less than two months before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. State Department on Monday issued an advisory to American citizens: "Do not travel to Japan due to COVID-19."

Does that advisory, which is based on CDC guidance, affect the Olympics?

"No," a U.S. Olympic official told Yahoo Sports, flatly. "It really doesn't."

So it's irrelevant?

"It really is," the official said.

Tamayo Marukawa, Japan's Olympic minister, said at a news conference Tuesday that, "at present, we can see no particular impact."

Katsunobu Kato, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said Tuesday that the Japanese government had been in contact with the U.S. government, and that "there is absolutely no change in the United States' support for Japan's decision to hold the Olympics."

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement that it had "been made aware of the updated State Department advisory as it relates to Japan." The official stressed to Yahoo Sports that it "doesn't change our plans at all."

Nor, really, does it affect anybody's plans. "The government of Japan continues to enforce strict travel regulations that bar most new foreigners from entering the country," the U.S. Embassy in Japan explained in a Tuesday health alert. Tourists aren't permitted. Business travelers aren't permitted. Visa-free travel is suspended.

The State Department advisory is merely a recommendation. "No additional entry restrictions have been implemented for travel to Japan," the U.S. Embassy said.

Athletes and other Olympic participants will still be allowed to travel to Tokyo for the Games, which begin July 23. Much of Japan is currently under a state of emergency, but IOC vice president John Coates said last week that the Games will happen, even if Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.

The State Department advisory warned of a "very high level of COVID-19" in Japan. Daily cases, however, have fallen in recent days to below 4,000. In the United States, which is about 2.6 times the size of Japan, the daily seven-day average is around 25,000.

The advisory did not mention the Olympics, where all participants will be forced to abide by significant restrictions on movement and socialization. They'll also be tested twice in the four days before their flight to Japan, again upon arrival, and daily while in Tokyo. Olympic organizers have outlined their countermeasures in 50-plus-page "Playbooks" that will be finalized next month.

The USOPC said in its statement: "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."

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