Beijing 2022 mascots Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon are among the attractions at the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo at Shougang Industrial Park in the capital. [Photo/Xinhua]
With full vaccination urged and a "bubble operation" prepared, Beijing 2022 has presented a set of vigilant policies on COVID-19 containment to the International Olympic Committee for hosting safe and successful Winter Olympics next year.
All athletes and participants in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing are encouraged to be fully vaccinated before arriving in China so they can directly enter the closed-loop management system, known as a biosecure bubble. This will enable them to check in at the athletes villages and official Games hotels, use designated shuttle services and training facilities and compete on schedule at official venues, according to a joint statement released by the IOC and Beijing organizers.
While vaccination is not a precondition to participation, Games participants who are not fully vaccinated will have to undergo a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in China, as required by the country's anti-pandemic control procedure for international visitors.
Beijing 2022 organizers presented these policies on Wednesday to the IOC during the committee's executive board meeting, chaired by IOC President Thomas Bach, in the presence of the International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons. The meeting outlined key aspects of COVID-19 countermeasures, including vaccination, Games-time management, spectators and ticketing, testing and transportation.
All vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization and related international organizations or officially approved by the countries or regions concerned will be accepted. Athletes who can provide a justified reason for medical exemption will have their cases considered.
"To ensure the safety and health of athletes and all stakeholders, Beijing 2022 has always prioritized COVID-19 prevention and control to ensure that the Games are held safely as scheduled," the organizing committee said in a statement released on Thursday.
The Beijing Winter Olympics will be held from Feb 4 to 20 in three zones: Beijing's downtown area, its northwest Yanqing district and co-host Zhangjiakou in Hebei province. The Paralympic Games are scheduled for March 4 to 13.
To ensure the safety of the Games, on Jan 23, almost two weeks before the opening ceremony, a closed loop system will be set in motion and remain in place and remain effective until the end of the Paralympics on March 13. All participants－including athletes, delegation officials, accredited media and Games staff－will be confined within the areas of official venues, accommodation facilities and operational sites, away from local communities.
Participants will be allowed to move only within the closed bubble between Games-related facilities for training, competition and work via a dedicated Games transport system.
All domestic and international Games participants and staff members within the bubble will be subject to daily testing.
Given the grave and complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing 2022 will bar spectators from outside the Chinese mainland, and tickets will be sold only to residents of the mainland who meet certain COVID-19 prevention and control requirements, which have not yet been finalized.
Ticketing arrangement details remain under discussion and review, and will be released to the public once they are fully worked out, according to the organizing committee.
Beijing 2022 organizers and the IOC have emphasized that all activities must be optimized to focus only on essential aspects of the Games. Accompanying guests, who have traditionally been allowed to enter Games venues on the invitation of respective stakeholders, will be barred from traveling to Beijing.
Beijing 2022 will release the first version of its COVID-19 playbook detailing all policies and measures in late October, and a second version in December.
"Facing the uncertainty of the global COVID-19 situation, Beijing 2022, the IOC and the IPC are working closely together to address the situation and to keep the stakeholders informed," Beijing 2022 said in a statement.