Beijing on high alert for COVID-19 ahead of the 2022 winter Olympics

A man sets up a fence around a Beijing 2022 installation near the closed loop “bubble” surrounding venues of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

In the quest to hold successful and exhilarating winter Olympic games amid the threatening surge of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, China is charged with high spirits, coupled with high-level alerts as it prepares to welcome the world in the city of Beijing. Recently, the organizing committee for the highly anticipated Olympics led by the China International Publishing Group (CIPG), in partnership with the International Communication Development Center for the China Foreign Publishing Administration, the People’s Sports Publishing House, the Publicity Department of the Beijing Shijingshan District Committee, the Capital Institute of Physical Education (Beijing International Olympic Academy) and the COVD-19 management team invited scores of students and experts from Africa, Asia, and Europe in host city Beijing, for a dry-run and pre-Olympics experience in a variety of colorful activities including Curling and Ice Hockey. Invited young people were also given a chance to mingle with some famous Chinese athletes who will participate in the games, in a platform termed ‘Experiencing the winter Olympics and dialogue with generation Z’ which became a hub for cultural exchange and to use different social media platforms to express their feelings towards the games and their understanding of China’s Olympics story. These served as curtain-raisers for the main sporting event scheduled to take place from the 4th February 2022. Tapping from the Community with Shared Future for Mankind bandwagon, which promotes working together for global peace, unity, and multilateralism, China’s commitment to unite the world through sport will stand the test of time, as the entire world stands on its feet to witness how Beijing will pull it off, in a historical moment amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. The online presence of the world population of over 1 million netizens who watched live this gathering is an attestation to that. 

Greenlight to hold the Olympic under strict COVID-19 measures in place 

This year’s competitions are a special kind, coming at a time when the world is in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, China has proven to take a leading role in containing the spread and controlling movement in different cities by engaging in mass public outreach campaigns to educate people more about preventative measures, mass testing, and vaccination of all people living in China, regardless of their origin. Needless to say, China has donated more than 2 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and continues to do so. Despite China being one of the first countries to ever produce COVD-19 vaccines, the control measures remain intact without any compromise. Most recently, the government has applied even more robust measures for travel, especially entry in Beijing from other cities to ensure that the games are held in a COVID-free environment. Registration of travel activities around Beijing also helps strengthen the safety measures. At any given chance, there is still a “no mask, no entry” policy. Known for its high-tech expansions, China’s multifaceted temperature scan system available at every entry point for public places such as shops, malls, hospitals, etc., is designed in a manner that provides instant health code/green code (obtained using the QR Code from a WeChat mini program), connected to a real-time tracker that was developed by Chinese experts to provide the full details of person’s travel history, made to ease the process of contact tracing and identifying the places that were visited if the person is found to have contracted the virus. This has helped reduce the potential spread of the virus across China since its introduction at the beginning of the pandemic. Above all, before traveling to any gathering, Chinese authorities have issued an instruction for all the travelers to present a negative nucleic acid test (COVID test) obtained within 24 hours before arrival. Currently, China is undertaking a comprehensive mass testing campaign at different levels across all the cities. The testing services are freely accessible to its 1.4 billion citizenry and all foreigners, and the public is highly encouraged to come for testing once every week until further notice. This is to eliminate any chances of the virus spreading further, especially with the new Omicron variant. Upon testing, the results are sent through an online system as well as made available on the WeChat account usually less than 8 hours. This is an effective approach, without any delays that would compromise the COVID-19 management and control measures. Through this approach, Beijing is working tirelessly to ensure that everything goes as planned and is ready to welcome the world’s renowned sportspersons to compete in the magnificent 2022 winter Olympics and spectators alike.

Author: Gopolang Ditlhokwa

Beijing, China

Gopolang Ditlhokwa is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Communication University of China. 

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