Beijing, Sep 15 (EFE).- China’s National Games kicked off Wednesday under strict Covid-19 measures to test the country’s zero tolerance approach to the virus for the Winter Olympic Games, scheduled for February 2022 in Beijing.
The central province of Shaanxi will host the 14th edition of the National Games until Sep. 27.
Spectators will be allowed at the event although they must be fully vaccinated and undergo different types of nucleic acid tests.
More than 46,200 people, including athletes, spectators, coaches, staff and officials, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping, are expected to attend the opening ceremony in the province’s capital, Xi’An, on Wednesday.
The event – the first of its kind to be held in China since the start of the pandemic – aims to test the country’s strict measures to control and prevent the spread of Covid-19 at sporting events with a view to the 2022 Winter Games.
These measures range from strict controls on entry into the country with quarantines of up to three weeks and several types of analyses as well as massive testing and selective lockdowns in places where outbreaks are detected.
Earlier this month, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called on Shaanxi officials to perform continuous checks and create “bubbles” for athletes, coaches and staff, as well as tighten controls at airports, train stations, hotels and tourist areas.
According to the General Administration of Sport of China, epidemic prevention efforts at sporting events are the organizers’ top priority as the country tries to quash a small outbreak in the southeastern Fujian province, where 50 locally transmitted cases were recorded on Wednesday.
Experts say that the safety measures at the National Games are “more comprehensive and stricter” than those adopted during the recently concluded Olympic Games in Tokyo, adding that the “closed-loop management system will likely create a standard to be followed by the Beijing Winter Olympics,” state-run newspaper Global Times reported.
This indicates that the Winter Games, which will be held between Feb. 4-20, will be able to have spectators, at least from China, unlike the Tokyo Summer Games.
Beijing will be the first city to host both summer and winter Olympic games although the ice and snow venues are scattered between the capital city and neighboring Hebei province. EFE