May 26, 2021 at 09:05 JST
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Marine One on the Ellipse, near the White House on May 25 in Washington. (AP Photo)
WASHINGTON--The Biden administration on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for Tokyo's plan to hold the Olympic Games this summer and for U.S. athletes competing there despite a new wave of coronavirus cases and a U.S. travel advisory for Japan.
"Our position has not changed on the Olympics," a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.
"We understand the careful considerations that the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee are weighing as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The Government of Japan has stressed that public health remains the central priority as they plan to host the Games."
The White House issued a statement in April during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga saying that President Joe Biden supported Tokyo's efforts to hold a safe Olympics.
On Tuesday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said Biden supports "the U.S. athletes who have trained for these Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit".
The State Department on Monday issued a "Do Not Travel" advisory for Japan as a fourth wave of coronavirus infections threatens efforts to hold the games, which are slated to start on July 23.
The U.S. advisory and guidance for Japan did not mention plans for the Olympics but warned against visiting the country now. Japanese officials said they did not anticipate any effect on the Games from the travel advisory.
Japan, which has recorded more than 700,000 infections and 12,000 deaths from the virus, has delivered vaccinations to just under 5% of its population. That is the slowest rate among the world's larger, rich countries.
"There are very limited categories of U.S. travelers going to Japan for the Games," the State Department spokesperson said, adding that a specific set of "entry and movement rules and procedures" have been detailed to keep athletes and other travelers safe.
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