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Will Covid-19 surge throw a wet blanket over Winter Olympics?

Covid-19 situation isn’t very encouraging in Beijing, even as China gears up for Winter Olympics

In just under five days, the Chinese capital of Beijing will play host to the one of the most anticipated sporting events in recent times. More media space is being provided to the negative impact the event would have rather than the positives. Western criticism has been huge as China preps itself for the Winter Olympics, and now it has yet another hassle to fight.

The Covid-19 situation in Beijing is reportedly touching a new high, ahead of the start of the Winter Olympiad. The Chinese capital has reported the highest Covid -19 cases in 18 months. The capital city has reported 20 more cases, prompting the authorities to place certain local areas under lock and key. Mass testing of the residents in these area is currently underway.

In what could be an even more tough battle for the Beijing administration, coronavirus infections have been reported inside the Olympics bio-bubble. As many as 34 cases have been identified inside the Winter Olympics’ closed loop bubble, making the situation extremely serious.

Winter Olympics athletes among new cases

With 13 athletes / officials who arrived at the Beijing airport among the new positive cases inside the bio-bubble, the scene looks like it could be a cause for concern.  Following this, the Olympics officials have decided to put anyone who tests positive into isolation. They will be allowed to compete only if they get two negative results in 24 hours.

Ever since China announced that it would be hosting the Winter Olympics of 2022, there have been opposition regarding various factors. While climate change activists had expressed concern over the artificial snow being pumped into the games venues, world leaders have been calling out China for its brutal treatment of the Uyghur community. Besides these, the pandemic had raised a lot of questions as to whether China would be able to pull it off.

National Health Commission numbers, a concern

All these, including a diplomatic boycott by the West, have been ignored by Beijing and the Winter Olympics is all set to begin. The pandemic had brought in a situation of travel restrictions, but China has said that those travelling to Beijing for the games can fly in aboard chartered flights and stay in their bubble until they leave. This apart, anyone heading for China will have to clear Covid-19 tests before and after arriving in the country. games The games personnel are also ensuring that everyone inside the bio-bubble are also undergoing daily testing. Wearing of masks has been also made mandatory.

Now with the National Health Commission (NHC) of China registering 20 new Covid-19 positive cases on Sunday at Beijing. It could be a matter of concern. The local administration is taking extreme steps to curb the virus spread by locking down housing compounds in places where many of the cases were recorded.

The Winter Olympics may look like it is at risk. But then, China would do all it can to make the games happen. Even if that means tough measures to halt the spread and kickstart the Winter games. 

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Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The New Indian Express, MSN India, PanAsiaBiz. Sanjeev can be reached at [email protected]
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