Wednesday marks the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the Beijing Winter Olympics. Still, not everyone is in the mood to rejoice, as authorities fight against time to contain an epidemic of Covid-19 that is spreading throughout the country. Beginning in February, the Chinese capital will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, a distinction that is considered a significant source of national pride in the country. However, it also confronts a number of difficulties.
Beijing Is Racing Against Covid Outbreak With 100 Days Until The Winter Olympics
In addition to mounting demands for a boycott over China’s persecution of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, the Winter Games run the possibility of being overshadowed by the epidemic and China’s unyielding zero-covid policy which is a source of contention.
At the start of the 2008 Summer Games, there was a palpable excitement in the air throughout the city, as seen by live music performances, a large marathon relay around the Olympic Green, and even church services. However, it seems to be a much more subdued celebration this time around since large parts of the city have taken to the streets to avoid a fresh wave of coronavirus infections. Over 200 local conditions have been reported in approximately a dozen provinces and municipalities since October 17, and health officials have warned that the outbreak will likely worsen in the coming days.
Although the recent outbreak is regarded to be minor by international standards, even a single case poses a threat to China’s zero-Covid strategy, which calls for the complete eradication of the virus. Therefore, China’s borders remain tightly closed, and all international visitors are subjected to stringent and lengthy quarantine procedures upon their arrival.
A large number of international athletes and other participants are expected to arrive in Beijing for the Winter Games, which will be the most significant test yet of China’s Covid control measures.
Chinese organizers have proposed to host the Games in a bubble around Beijing, which would include all stadiums and competition sites, all accommodations, food and beverage services, and both the opening and closing ceremonies.
It will not be necessary to quarantine athletes or other participants who have received all of their vaccinations prior to entering the bubble. The quarantine period will last 21 days for those who have not been properly vaccinated before arriving in the United States. Moreover, they will be required to remain within the bubble throughout the Games, thereby avoiding any contact with local residents.
When it comes to the Chinese government’s zero-covid policy, capital has always been a primary focus. Although most foreign planes arrive in China via Beijing, most arrive through places such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai instead.
Now that the epidemic has grown in scope and intensity, Beijing has tightened entrance restrictions for internal travelers as well.
According to the Chinese government, flights to the capital from Chinese locations with confirmed diseases were halted last week. And, as of this week, those who had visited infected areas during the previous 14 days were barred from entering the country — even if they were Beijing residents who wanted to return home.