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Initial Covid Policies for Beijing Winter Games Announced



(30 September 2021)  The International Olympic Committee held an Executive Board meeting September 29, 2021, in the presence of the International Paralympic Committee. Beijing 2022 informed the Executive Board of the principles that will help deliver safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as scheduled.

The principles presented by Beijing 2022 will be detailed in documents referred to as Playbooks. The first version of these Playbooks will be released in late October 2021. A second version will then be published in December 2021.

The following preliminary principles were announced by the Executive Board.

  1. Vaccination policy

    • All athletes and Games participants who are fully vaccinated will enter the closed-loop management system upon arrival. Games participants who are not fully vaccinated will have to serve a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in Beijing.

    • Athletes who can provide a justified medical exemption will have their cases considered.

    • All vaccines recognized by WHO or related international organizations, or approved officially by the countries or regions concerned, will be accepted.

  2. Games-time closed-loop management

    • From 23 January until the end of the Paralympics, a closed-loop management system will be implemented to ensure the safe delivery of the Games. This closed-loop management system will cover all Games-related areas, including arrival and departure, transport, accommodation, catering, competitions, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Within the closed loop, participants will be allowed to move only between Games-related venues for training, competitions and work. A dedicated Games transport system will be put in place.

  3. Spectators/Ticketing

    • Tickets will be sold exclusively to spectators residing in China’s mainland, who meet the requirements of the COVID-19 countermeasures.

    • Specific requirements on COVID-19 countermeasures for spectators from China’s mainland and the details of ticketing arrangements are under discussion and development, and will be released to the public in due course once they are finalized.

  4. Accredited guest policy

    • Beijing 2022 and the IOC underlined that all activities are being assessed and optimized to focus on essential aspects of Games delivery. Stakeholders will apply this principle for their plans and delegation composition.

    • In line with this principle, the IOC EB decided to cancel the accompanying guest category for all stakeholders.

  5. Travel

    • Beijing 2022 will assist those stakeholders that are not in a position to book their pre-Games or Games-time flights independently.

  6. Accommodation

    • Besides athletes and some delegation officials who are accompanying athletes living in the Villages, all participants travelling to Beijing will reside in Beijing 2022-contracted hotels that will be compliant with the COVID-19 countermeasures for the Games.

  7. Testing

    • All domestic and international Games participants and workforce in the closed-loop management system will be subject to daily testing.

What It Means

Participants who are not fully vaccinated will have to arrive in Beijing three weeks earlier than they might have planned to quarantine.  This would seem to say unvaccinated athletes would lose three weeks of training time prior to the games if they cannot get an exemption - a disruption in training no athlete can afford.

The closed loop management system appears it will be organized as an extended "bubble," with participants confined to official hotels, venues, food service locations and the official transportation system.  This would seem to preclude moving about the city outside of the bubble at any time, starting with arrival at the airport, and ending with departure at the end of the games.

There will be daily testing of all participants.  Where and how this will be done is yet to be announced.

Participants will be required to stay in LOC-contracted hotels.  Anyone who booked a non-contracted hotel will now have to try and obtain accommodations through the LOC, which is something that needed to be completed at the beginning of the year.  This will no doubt induce sticker shock for some media who attempted to save on the cost of accommodations by not using LOC-contracted hotels.  For example, earlier in the year it was possible to book non-contracted hotels for less than half the price of contracted hotels - in some cases a savings of over $2000 (or more) for a 20 day stay at the games.  The LOC has announced adjustments to the accommodation booking and cancellation policies to deal with expected cancellations and new bookings.

Spectators from non-mainland China will be prohibited.

Other Rumors

Rumors have swirled for several weeks concerning policies for participants at the games.  One of these was the 21 day quarantine, which we now know applies to non-vaccinated participants. Another rumor concerns details of the vaccination policy, which we will not repeat, as the current policy announcement seems quite clear that fully vaccinated participants with WHO recognized vaccines will meet requirements.

One further rumor which we will repeat, is that media will not be allowed to bring their cell phones and computers into the country, and will be given LOC provided devices that will then be returned at the end of the games.

When first hearing of this, the purpose was hard to understand, but subsequently a news report out of Lithuania provided a hint of what may be involved here.

Recently the government of Lithuania advised its country's residents to stop using Chinese manufactured cell phones, as the devices were found to censor hundreds of terms in internet use that the Chines government finds objectionable.  In addition, the devices are said to provide usage information to a server in Singapore, that is suspected of providing the usage  information to Chinese authorities.

Putting two and two together, it is reasonable to suspect the purpose of the rumored games devices policy is to force all media to use devices that have installed malware that will allow Chinese authorities to monitor everything media say and do on the devices during the games.  We have no proof of this, but it certainly sounds in-character for the Chinese government; and if the policy is implemented, a reasonable person would conduct themself assuming everything they do with the devices will be monitored by Chinese authorities.