(CNN) – The Tokyo Olympics, postponed in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, face increasing hurdles to running a show in 2021.
The last worrying sign for the Summer Games was Monday when the State Department advised US citizens not to travel to Japan because of a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases.
It has been more than a year since Americans paid tourist calls to the nation. Japan was closed to US vacationers throughout the pandemic, with only “very limited” circumstances in which US citizens could enter.
The Games will continue to take place in Japan from July 23rd to August 8th.
Covid-19 outbreak in Japan
Vaccine adoption has been slow compared to other places in Asia due to the lack of health professionals and syringes. Only about 2% of Japanese citizens have received at least one shot of the vaccine.
The government plans to open large vaccination facilities in Osaka and Tokyo to speed up the process. The Ministry of Health officially approved two Covid-19 vaccines (Moderna and AstraZeneca) on May 21.
The rollout is also in stark contrast to the US vaccination campaign, in which at least 25 states have now fully vaccinated at least 50% of the adult population.
To move pressure
Protesters protest against the Tokyo Summer Olympics on Monday May 17th.
Koji Sasahara / AP
There was increasing pressure to postpone the games again.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach pushed back against critics last week, saying that Japan and Tokyo officials would make the right decision in 2020 about how to deal with the situation and that the risks have been well managed so far.
The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, an organization of about 6,000 doctors in Tokyo, recently drafted a letter requesting a cancellation, while a petition was presented to organizers that received 350,000 signatures in support of a cancellation in nine days.
The CEO of Japan’s leading e-commerce company, Rakuten, said holding the games amid the pandemic was a “suicide mission” – one of the strongest oppositions voiced by any business leader to date.
Also at level 4
Japan is not the only nation to receive level 4 advice from the State Department.
The tropical island state of Sri Lanka off the southeast of Covid-ravaged India was also raised to “Level 4, Do Not Travel” on Monday. Other popular destinations that were open to US tourists during much of the pandemic also have a level 4 warning, including Mexico, Brazil, and Turkey.
The State Department recently aligned its travel warnings more closely with the travel warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, placing a significant number of countries in the “do not travel” category.
CNN’s Carly Walsh, Alex Thomas and George Ramsay contributed to this report.