Winter Games 2022: The Beijing Olympic Bubble

Status: 10.12.2021 1:25 p.m.

The closer the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the greater the criticism. Regardless of this, the preparations are in full swing – for example strictly screened test runs.

By Benjamin Eyssel, ARD-Studio Beijing

An electric bus shuttle drives from the hotel reserved for the press to the Olympic ski jump – at a snail’s pace. The journey takes 25 minutes. To the left and right of the route you can see the new quarters for athletes, some workers are still busy. We also pass the brand new train station, with police officers standing at every intersection.

Benjamin Eyssel
ARD-Studio Peking

Strict zero covid policy

Once at the ski jump, the journalists are first guided to the media center by the many helpers. A map is used to explain which areas you are allowed to enter and which are not. Because there are also trainers and athletes from abroad on the ski jump site – since they entered the area without quarantine, you should not meet them under any circumstances. The background to this is China’s strict zero-covid policy. Anyone who does not adhere to it is threatened with forced quarantine by the authorities.

A UFO and roaring music

The futuristic ski jump is reminiscent of a UFO built in the middle of the mountain. With roaring music and minus ten degrees, ski jumpers from all over the world compete. The areas that media people are not allowed to enter are demarcated with red tape. However, this is not always very clear. If you accidentally take a wrong turn, you will suddenly find yourself inside the so-called bubble and will be chased back by the watchdogs. Touching the railing is also prohibited – due to Corona.

Free travel in the Olympic bubble

A press conference in Beijing last week: The spokesman for the government, Zhao Weidong, explains that media people traveling to the Olympic Games can move freely between the three main locations. That was not yet clear. One of the Olympic sites is right in the center of the Chinese capital, the other two several hours’ drive outside – depending on traffic.

There are Olympic Villages at all three Olympic locations, and the locations are connected by newly built high-speed trains. The athletes and journalists are not allowed to leave the Olympic bubble. Spokesman Zhao Weidong emphasizes:

Anyone who is legally in the bubble during the games will not be restricted in their activities. In the large, cordoned-off area, you can move freely between the individual stations, the venues and the three competition locations if you use the means of transport provided.

After the Olympics start in early February, everyone in the bladder will have to take a daily PCR test. Those who test positive for Corona should be isolated. For this purpose, hospitals and corona shelters were built.

Written questions instead of interviews

During the test runs, instructions and warnings come from the loudspeakers on a regular basis. The journalists should not ask the athletes any questions directly. Any encounters between people in the bubble and people who live in China should be avoided in order to prevent infection in the country.

What the organizers have come up with: The media people are supposed to submit their questions in writing, then it is collected and selected – reporters in the bubble ask the questions. The videos can then be viewed online. International journalist representatives criticize this because the Chinese organizers have the opportunity to simply sort out critical questions. However, in many interviews the music in the background is so loud that you hardly understand anything.

Two months before the start of the Winter Olympics in China: test runs in the bladder

Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Beijing, 10.12.2021 · 12:58 p.m.

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