Olympia 2022: Winter Games in the zero Covid bubble

Status: 01/27/2022 09:32 a.m

The Olympic Villages in China will be officially opened today and have been in temporary operation since Sunday. Because of China’s corona strategy, they are strictly isolated from the rest of the country.

By Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Studio Beijing

There is an Olympic Village at each of the three main Winter Games sites: Beijing City Center, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou. In addition to communal accommodation, the newly built facilities also include fitness centers, training facilities, shopping centers and restaurants. A number of journalists, supervisors and the first athletes have already arrived in China, and more are arriving every day.

Benjamin Eyssel
ARD-Studio Peking

Starting next week, the games will take place completely in a so-called bubble, strictly isolated from the rest of the country. The reason is China’s strict zero-Covid policy.

Since the beginning of January, more than 100 participants have already tested positive for Corona after their arrival at the airport and in the bladder and have been isolated – but so far only individual athletes and team members. They are only allowed to leave isolation again if their corona tests are negative. Everyone who is in the bladder must take a PCR test every day.

Test specifications a little less strict

After international criticism, the Chinese organizers have recently changed the measured value with which a corona test is considered positive. This means that the tests in China are now less sensitive than initially planned. Participants feared that they would test negative before departure and then positive after arrival – because the Chinese test requirements are stricter than in their home country.

The first competitions start on Wednesday, tomorrow in a week the grand opening ceremony will take place in Beijing’s national stadium. Some countries have announced that they will boycott the games politically – i.e. not send any official representatives to China, for example the USA.

The background is, among other things, a protest against China’s human rights violations. Other countries are also not sending politicians, but justify this with the pandemic situation, including Germany.

Case numbers in China very low

Because of the Covid 19 pandemic, the Winter Olympics will take place without spectators from abroad. Spectators from China can view competitions by invitation only, and tickets will not be sold to the general public.

The omicron variant of the corona virus has already arrived in China. However, the number of cases is very low. The People’s Republic has been adhering to a strict zero-Covid policy for around two years. The borders are largely closed. In the event of the smallest outbreaks, the authorities react with mass tests, strict contact tracing, strict exit restrictions and travel bans.

Olympic Villages in China officially opened

Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Beijing, 27.1.2022 · 09:00


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