The U.S. State Department on Monday issued a “do not travel” warning to Japan amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, raising questions about the ability of the country to host the Olympics this summer.
The Summer Games, already postponed from last year, are a central part of Comcast-owned NBCUniversal’s strategy for the summer and the coming season, as the media giant just last week pitched an elaborate schedule of coverage across network platforms as part of the advertising upfront presentation. Following the State Department advisory, a spokesperson for NBC Sports said that plans had not changed.
The U.S. Olympic Committee has not yet commented on how the advisory will affect plans for athletes to attend the Games, scheduled to begin on July 23, less than two months from now. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
There has been opposition in Tokyo to proceeding with the Olympics, including protests in that city. But Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, and Japanese Prime Minister Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have been adamant about holding the games, albeit with a lesser number of people likely attending. The government has recently announced steps to try to accelerate the rollout od its vaccine program, which has been slower than in the U.S.
The State Department advisory read, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Japan due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into Japan.”
In March, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts indicated that the company had insurance to protect against losses should the Olympics be cancelled. But the network would miss out on advertising revenue and a valuable promotional platform.
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