By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. State Department issued a strong warning Monday — do not travel to Japan — the site of the 2021 Olympic Games.

The announcement is yet another hurdle in the way of the Summer Games. Still, one East Bay weightlifter is looking forward to the Olympics and realizing his dream.

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Wes Kitts is preparing for the games at the California Strength gym in San Ramon. He moved to the Bay Area to train from Knoxville, Tennessee five years ago.

“I think the Olympic committee and the Japanese government — I think they’re working really hard to make sure that we’re safe, and they’re taking a lot of precautions,” Kitts said. “We were going to spend a month down there training, now we’re only going to be down there 5 days and you know they’re going to isolate the athletes. They’re going to test everybody.”

He said he experienced the trials in the U.S. during the pandemic and is focused on the goal.

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“I feel pretty good, I’m not too worried about that, with things like competing in the Olympics on your plate, there’s not a lot of room for worrying about whether you’re going to get sick,” he said.

The State Department’s warning is the highest cautionary level. Japan has seen a big increase in cases since a state of emergency was lifted in March. Its vaccine rollout has been slow due to supply and labor problems.

The International Olympic Committee is facing pressure to postpone the games again.

“If you’re the athlete, first of all, you’re young which means you think you’re invincible,” said KPIX 5’s Sports Anchor Vern Glenn. “But second of all, I personally know swimmers, water polo players, weightlifters, just fill in the blank, I know a lot of these people who have worked so hard, for so many years, and have sacrificed so much and to not go again would just be a heartbreaker. I have to believe that these athletes are going to trust the system.”

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The IOC has yet to comment on Monday’s advisory, but as of Friday, said the Games are still scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8th.