Beijing rules out lockdown during Winter Olympics

Beijing, Jan 11 (EFE).- The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Winter Olympics said Tuesday that it is not contemplating locking down the Chinese capital amid a surge in coronavirus cases in China in recent days.

Placing Beijing under lockdown during the Games “is off the table now,” Huang Chun, an official of the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee said, according to state-run media Global Times.

Huang said although the Omicron variant has already been detected in some Chinese cities including Tianjin, located some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Beijing, “the overall situation is under control.”

In Tianjin, the authorities responded to the first local infections of the variant by prohibiting residents from leaving the city without a negative PCR test result, and have launched a large-scale testing campaign under which they have already tested nine million out of its nearly 14 million population.

“Unless there are large-scale cases in the competition zones, we don’t plan to adjust the Covid-19 countermeasures yet,” Huang said at a briefing in Beijing.

Huang added that while imposing a lockdown in Beijing was not an option at the moment, there was always room to change the policy if required.

The Games will be held in line with China’s “zero Covid” strategy and amid the threat posed by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Athletes, journalists and workers arriving from overseas must remain isolated in a bubble with no contact with the outside world and undergo daily nucleic acid tests.

The unvaccinated will also have to quarantine for 21 days after arriving in Beijing.

The bubble system will officially be in place from Jan. 23, 2022 – the Games will be held between Feb. 4-20 – to the end of the Winter Paralympics – to be held from Mar. 4-13.

Members of the staff have already been working inside the bubble since early January.

Beijing will be the first city to host both summer and winter Olympic games, and the authorities want to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Apart from the sporting event, the spotlight will also be on the diplomatic boycott of the Games by the United States and other nations over concerns of China’s alleged human rights abuses and on how the country will conduct the Games amid the pandemic. EFE


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