Beijing, China | Millions of residents across China were confined for 100 days from the Beijing Winter Olympics. Organizers agreed Wednesday that COVID-19 is the “Number One Challenge” of the Olympics-2022.
From February 4 to 20, Imperial City will be the first city in the world to host both the Summer (in 2008) and Winter Games.
Last week, the Olympic flame was handed over to China at a ceremony in Athens, which led to a protest by activists condemning the existence of communist rule in Tibet.
But in addition to human rights issues, six months after the Tokyo Summer Games were postponed for a year due to the epidemic, there is a danger that the fight against Kovid-19 will dominate the competition.
In this context, the Chinese authorities, who follow a zero pollution policy, have taken great measures to eradicate the very limited epidemic spread in the north of the country in recent days.
On Tuesday, Lanzhou, a large city 1,700 km west of Beijing, after finding a few dozen cases, invited people to stay home unless absolutely necessary, detaining its 4 million inhabitants.
Vaccine or quarantine
“The pandemic is the first challenge to the management of the Winter Games,” Zhang Xiangdang, vice president of the organizing committee, told the Associated Press.
Dozens of provinces, or one-third of all, including the city of Beijing, have accelerated mitigation measures, where 20 pollution cases were counted last week.
Zhang promised that actions planned for the games would “reduce the risk and impact of the coronavirus” and warned that participants who did not follow the rules would be fined.
The 2022 Games will take place in a “bubble” intended to eliminate any risk of pollution to the rest of China.
2,900 athletes must be fully vaccinated or detained for 21 days upon arrival in the country.
Only spectators who are already in China can attend the events.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) told AFP that “vaccination, closed-circuit management and regular screening tests are key elements that will make the Games safer.”
Authorities have planned 300 negative pressure ambulances to transport as many patients as possible without spreading polluted air outside.
Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing, announced the installation during mobile laboratory games, which can perform 40,000 screening tests per day.
The first country to be hit by the pandemic, China practically stopped the virus in the spring of 2020 after following tough measures to control its residents. The country has almost closed its borders to other parts of the world.
Authorities reported Wednesday that 50 new infections have been reported in the past 24 hours. The official number since the outbreak was less than 100,000 cases, including 4,636 deaths.
“Impatience” and “excitement”
Despite the epidemic context, the Pekingese are said to be happy with the approach to the Games, while a large clock on the faade of the Olympic Tower, built on the site of the 2008 events, displays “100 Days”.
“We are looking forward to it. China is very proud of this,” Li Shuwei, a resident, told AFP.
Others say they have faith in anti-epidemic measures.
“Infection is not a big problem if severe loneliness is observed,” assures a woman named Huang Jinyu. “It’s been going on for a while … the pandemic will not dampen our spirits if everyone is careful. ”
The organizers also presented the medals to be awarded to the players on Tuesday: in the form of five circles, they were inspired by ancient Chinese jade pendants.