On Monday, United States health officials and the State Department warned Americans against traveling to Japan due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the country. The warning comes as Tokyo continues to prepare to host the Olympics this summer.
Currently, there isn't a ban against United States citizens traveling to Japan, but residents are strongly being encouraged not to visit the country for the Olympics or in any other capacity. It's unclear if the recent surge in COVID-19 cases will have any impact on Olympic athletes or spectators planning to travel to Japan for the Summer Games.
"Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. "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 State Department also offered a warning and it was a little more direct than the CDC statement. The department raised its travel alert from "Level 3: Reconsider travel" to "Level 4: Do not travel."
"Do not travel to Japan due to COVID-19," the State Department announced.
Despite the United States urging Americans not to travel to Japan, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee still expects American athletes to attend the Tokyo Olympics and those athletes will be able to do so in a safe manner.
"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," the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement on Monday.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has reported an estimated 12,000 deaths related to COVID-19. However, cities like Tokyo and Osaka are currently in a state of emergency and that is expected to last until at least May 31.
On Monday, Japan did make an attempt to increase vaccination rollout throughout the country in preparation for the Olympics. An estimated 2-4 percent of the Japanese population is currently vaccinated.
The Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 23 and run through August 8.