Games without hitches, without contacts and without atmosphere

So far, the situation is under control. But for the atmosphere, we will come back. The organizers of these Beijing Winter Olympics, placed under a “bell”, officially claim a good health record at the end of a week of competitions, the cases of Covid having not come to disturb the latter. The other side of the coin is that this has a “price”: the competition sites are almost empty of spectators – the organizers had given up the ticket office in mid-January – only populated by handpicked guests. , who are asked to wave flags for some semblance of ambiance.

On Friday February 11, Beijing-2022 officials reported that of the 13,275 people who entered China since January 23 for the Olympics, 418 tested positive. The Omicron variant does not seem to have spread in Beijing and its surroundings: from February 4 to 6, the authorities officially counted only five new cases transmitted locally, and none since. “There is no sign of transmission of the virus”welcomed Brian McCloskey, the medical manager of the Games, on February 8.

It must be said that the measures put in place by the Chinese authorities are heavy. And very restrictive. In China, where the first patients with the virus were identified at the end of 2019, and which has since applied a “zero-Covid strategy”, the health issue is a national priority. These Games have therefore been placed in a strictly closed health “bubble”. A “fortress” from which it is illusory to escape. This takes the form of checkpoints and barriers installed along the roads around the various competition sites.

“The situation is safe”

Entering the said bubble – from Beijing airport – was already a cross for the athletes, their companions and the media. Once inside, you have to comply with a drastic protocol: daily oropharyngeal PCR test, obligation to use dedicated means of transport and, above all, a formal ban on leaving this closed loop. An army of volunteers and police, Chinese flag on the chapka, is there to – kindly – ​​remind us.

Employees collect samples from press center furniture to perform Covid-19 screening tests on February 10, 2022 in Beijing.

It is a question of limiting the risks of contamination to the bubble, by carefully avoiding any contact with the outside. Impossible to meet any Chinese foreign to the device or to go as a tourist on the Great Wall, yet two steps away. ” The situation inside the bubble is safe,” forward Brian McCloskey.

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