The Winter Olympics 2022 is just a few days away, but Beijing’s closed loop system has been in effect since last month.
As of early this week, all the necessary preparations for the long-awaited sporting event have already been completed, according to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games.
The organizers of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 initiated a press conference last Monday. It had a theme of “Winter Olympics, Sports, and Culture”. During this time, they stated that the event will be “simple, safe, and wonderful”.
All the construction of the venues has been finished, and test runs have already been conducted. Athletes were also able to perform their warm-up sessions on the site where the tournament will be held. Facilities, hotels, and healthcare services in all of the three competition zones are prepared as well.
The organizers of the Winter Olympics 2022 have also ensured that the sporting event is equipped with 5G, robots, hydrogen vehicles, and many more advanced technologies. These aim to support the personnel of the sporting event so that activities will run smoothly and conveniently.
Zhao Weifong, a spokesperson for the organizing committee, said that the Winter Olympics 2022 is a gift given to China by the whole world. This is because the sporting event coincides with the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year.
In line with this, traditional Chinese lanterns, paper cutting, and the calligraphy of “Fu” were used. Food that will be served also includes dumplings and Peking duck. This was done to incorporate the culture of China into the decoration of the venues and the sporting event as a whole.
Yang Yang, the chairperson of the Athlete’s Commission, said that “we would like to invite everyone to enjoy the Games in all senses, including tastes of the food, while enjoying the matches”.
Dr. Huang Chun, the deputy director-general of the organizing committee’s Pandemic Prevention and Control Office, said that Beijing’s closed loop system is working well. The occurrence of COVID-19 positive individuals within the bubbles is understandable since more personnel have been arriving.
COVID-19 Regulations during the Winter Olympics 2022: Beijing’s Closed Loop System
Beijing’s closed loop system was implemented in order to safely conduct the Winter Olympics 2022 and, at the same time, prevent uncontrollable transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
There are three competition zone bubbles that are all interconnected with each other. Participants and employees are assigned to their respective bubble zones, where they will stay for the whole duration of the sporting event. They are prohibited from leaving their bubble zones and cannot mingle with the general population.
Each bubble has its own stadiums, venues, convention centers, and hotels. They are all interconnected by a high-speed rail, with different carriages and highways assigned to them. The strict implementation of Beijing’s closed loop system means that drivers who use lanes not intended for them will be punished by having to pay fines. It also goes as far as prohibiting individuals from entering a different bubble, even if they just intend to help a loop vehicle that was involved in a crash.
Before and Upon Arrival in Beijing
Participants of the Winter Olympics 2022 who are coming from another country need to prepare two weeks prior to their arrival in Beijing. During that time, they need to measure their temperature and upload it to a specific health app named “MY2022”. All other pertinent information should also be included. Participants need to do this every day for the whole two weeks.
Then, participants need to undergo a total of three COVID-19 tests before they enter their respective bubbles.
Within 24 hours before getting on a plane to Beijing, participants should have two negative results on a COVID-19 test. Upon arriving in Beijing, they will be greeted by assigned personnel who are wearing biohazard suits. Their third COVID-19 test will be done before they get on board the vehicle that will transport them to their assigned bubble.
The officers who will be in charge of ensuring that participants are safe and follow the COVID-19 regulations are also subject to similar conditions. They were required to undergo a 3-week long quarantine period before the sporting event and even after it.
In one of the venues for the sporting event, personnel were even required to keep thermometers on their underarm. This will allow prompt identification of individuals that have high temperatures since the thermometers automatically alarm when this happens.
Protocols when a Participant Tests Positive within Beijing’s Closed Loop System
Anyone who ends up with a COVID-19 positive test result will be required to go to an isolation center or hospital, depending on the severity of their disease.
Individuals who do not require medical care are required to stay in an isolation center for 10 days at a minimum. They will only be allowed to leave the isolation center if they do not present with any symptoms and have a low viral load on tests for three straight days.
The organizers have ensured that the isolation rooms within Beijing’s closed loop system can comfortably accommodate those who tested positive for COVID-19. The rooms are as big as 25 square meters each and have good ventilation provided by a window. Individuals will also have access to free wifi and be given three meals each day.
The protocols for individuals in close contact with a participant who tested positive for COVID-19 depend on the nature of their job. If their responsibilities can be passed on to another individual, they have to stay in the isolation center for 21 days or leave the country within 24 hours of obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result.
On the other hand, different protocols apply to individuals that have a job that is necessary for the conduct of the sporting event or if they will compete in the tournament. They are required to isolate themselves in their own rooms, travel to the competition venue on their own, train in their rooms or any available empty space, and undergo a COVID-19 test every day. They should also test negative for COVID-19 six hours before their event.
Can Participants Travel Around China after the Winter Olympics?
When the Winter Olympics end, participants will not be allowed to travel around the country. Everyone should head straight back home from their assigned bubble zone.
This is in contrast to the regulations implemented during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Participants were allowed to go sightseeing and tour the different must see places in the city two weeks after the event.
Years’ worth of preparation, for both the country and the participants, will finally be actualized in a few days. The organizers had to abide by the Zero-COVID strategy implemented in the country, resulting in strict health measures for the Winter Olympics 2022. At the same time, participants have been met with challenges, but nevertheless, they are still aiming for the gold.