China planning ‘closed-loop’ bubble for Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday released a preliminary set of health protocols for the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing, suggesting that the next Olympics, which are set to begin on February 4, could be Most Extraordinarily Banned Mass Sporting Events Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games will have what organizers call a “closed-loop management system”, a bubble-like environment in which athletes, officials, broadcasters, journalists and a large sports work force will be forced to eat, sleep, work. Competition, without leaving, from the day they come to the moment they leave.

Anyone, including athletes intending to enter this bubble, has two choices: be fully vaccinated in China or prepare to spend the first 21 days in solitary quarantine in Beijing.

And while spectators will be allowed to return to competition venues after being largely halted by the recent Summer Games in Tokyo, entry will be limited to those living in mainland China.

A more detailed plan for the Games is due to be released at the end of October, but it is already clear that Beijing Olympic organizers and the Chinese government will attempt to enforce a level of control – around 3,000 athletes as well as several thousand more. Too. Sports participants including international journalists, volunteers and venue staff members – beyond anything seen before at the Games.

The organizers of Beijing 2022 presented these initial protocols to the IOC Executive Board on Wednesday. IOC, in a statement, offered its full support for the sanctions.

In keeping with the common objective of delivering a safe game, it said, “The IOC and IPC fully respect the principles established by Beijing 2022.”

A far more porous health protocol was demonstrated at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Participants were not required to be vaccinated, nor were they sequestered, and even when asked to try to stay within sport-affiliated venues, they were still required to interact with the outside world, including convenience stores and local Lots of opportunities were given. Restaurant for takeout food.

Meanwhile, local news media in Tokyo and members of the venue task forces were allowed to move from their homes to the Olympic venues. And after 14 days of more stringent restrictions, all visitors to the Games were given the freedom to move around the city at will.

The IOC said the so-called closed-loop management system planned in China would include “all sports-related areas including arrivals and departures, transportation, accommodation, catering, competitions and the opening and closing ceremonies.”

The IOC’s statement suggested that no one would be allowed to exit the system for any reason: “Within a closed loop, participants are allowed to move only between sports-related venues for training, competitions and work.” A dedicated sports transport system will be implemented.

Even within the bubble will be subject to daily coronavirus testing.

Beijing’s 2022 vaccination requirement – or the nearly unimaginable option let alone three weeks in quarantine for athletes on the eve of the Games – also represents an unprecedented step forward during this pandemic. No major sports league in the world has mandated that all competitors be allowed to be vaccinated, or face a similar multiweek isolation period, most likely without access to training, allowed to compete. Go. The IOC said on Wednesday that all vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization will be accepted and the individual cases of athletes who have sought medical exemptions “will be considered.”

Many prominent athletes around the world remain unconvinced, and it remains to be seen how many potential Olympians will decide to skip the Beijing Games or subject themselves to a three-week quarantine rather than accept vaccinations to gain access to the Games. Athletes in the United States are already facing their own vaccine mandates: Last week, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced that all of its athletes Vaccinations will be required by December 1st If they hope to represent the delegation in China next year.

In another departure from the Tokyo Games, where fans were banned entirely, spectators will be allowed at competition sites in Beijing in some capacity. But, according to the IOC, tickets will be limited to those living in mainland China “who meet COVID-19 countermeasures requirements.” The specifics of those requirements, the organization said, were still under discussion.

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