Japan says US travel warning for Covid won't hurt Olympians
The Japanese government Tuesday was quick to deny a US warning for Americans to avoid traveling to Japan would have an impact on Olympians wanting to compete in the postponed Tokyo Games.
US officials cited a surge in coronavirus cases in Japan caused by virus variants that may even be risky to vaccinated people. They didn't ban Americans from visiting Japan, but the warnings could affect insurance rates and whether Olympic athletes and other participants decide to join the games that open on July 23.
Most metro areas in Japan are under a state of emergency and expected to remain so through mid-June because of rising serious Covid-19 cases that are putting pressure on the country's medical care systems. That raises concern about how the country could cope with the arrival of tens of thousands of Olympic participants if its hospitals remain stressed and little of its population is vaccinated.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a news conference Tuesday that the warning does not prohibit essential travel and Japan believes the US support for Tokyo's effort to hold the Olympics is unchanged.
“We believe there is no change to the US position supporting the Japanese government's determination to achieve the games,” Kato said, adding that Washington has told Tokyo the travel warning is not related to the participation of the US Olympic team.
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said it still anticipates American athletes will be able to safely compete at the Tokyo Games.
Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, echoed the remarks of the USOPC.
“I’m aware the USOPC said that the advisory wouldn’t affect the games," she said. "I think it’s important for us to prepare well to accept athletes under such restrictions.”
Fans coming from abroad were banned from the Tokyo Olympics months ago, but athletes, families, sporting officials from around the world and other stakeholders still amount to a mass influx of international travelers. In opinion polls, the Japanese public has expressed opposition to holding the games out of safety concerns while most people will not be vaccinated.
The US warning from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: “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’s warning was more blunt: “Do not travel to Japan due to Covid-19,” it said.
China, which is to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, suggested caution in travel abroad.
“At present, the world is still facing a grave situation of fighting Covid-19," foreign minister spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday at a daily briefing. “For protecting people’s health and safety, we advise Chinese citizens to avoid unnecessary cross-border travels.”
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first in-person bilateral meeting with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau in over four years in Germany on Monday. A tweet from India's prime minister's office noted the two leaders “took stock of India-Canada friendship and discussed ways to further strengthen it across various sectors”. This was the first time they held such discussions sitting across from each other since Trudeau visited India in February 2018.
In a move that may have an impact on the terms of the growing Russia-India energy partnership - India has enhanced import of Russian energy since the war in Ukraine began as energy prices spiral - the G7 countries are considering imposing “price caps” on Russia's oil to dilute revenue inflows to Moscow. The West has alleged that these inflows are helping Russian President Vladimir Putin finance the war in Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a summit of the Group of Seven rich democracies on Monday there would be no return to the times before Russia's attack on Ukraine, which had ushered in long-term changes in international relations. "It is good, important and necessary that we talk to each other. Listening to each other creates mutual understanding and makes our work easier," he said.
Leonardo Del Vecchio, the Italian entrepreneur who transformed the tiny optics workshop he started in the Dolomite mountains into the undisputed world leader in eyewear and amassed one of the biggest fortunes in his country along the way, has died. The rise brought Del Vecchio the second-largest fortune is Italy -- after the chocolate-making Ferrero family -- with a net worth was $25.7 billion as of June 1, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Russian shelling of the city of Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine killed four people and wounded 19 on Monday, the regional governor said. There was no immediate comment from Russia, which denies targeting civilians. Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. "Doctors are providing all the necessary assistance. Information on the number of victims is being updated," Oleh Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said on the Telegram messaging app.