Aug 9, 2021 - Sports

Chinese authorities plan stricter approach to COVID-19 for Beijing Games

The Emblem of Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games is installed at Shijingshan district on Aug. 1.
The emblem of Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games is installed at Shijingshan district on Aug. 1. Photo: Vcg/Vcg via Getty Images

Chinese authorities are planning COVID-19 mitigation measures for next year's Beijing Winter Games that are "expected to go far beyond those taken" in Tokyo, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The Tokyo Olympics ended Sunday with over 400 infections reported. While spectators were banned from the Games and other strict protocols were in place, "enforcement was haphazard, and news outlets found many violations," the Times notes.

The big picture: On July 30, Beijing announced plans to redesign its 39 Olympic venues, per the Times.

  • "The design changes are supposed to ensure that athletes have practically no contact with referees, spectators or journalists, groups that will also be kept separate from one another as well. The goal is to minimize cross-infection," the Times writes.
  • The Beijing Games will also include the thousands of Chinese staff who will live in an Olympic bubble through the Games and will only re-enter the rest of China post a lengthy quarantine, according to the Times.
  • Other preventative measures include interviews with athletes conducted through plastic walls and microphones equipped with protective sponges to be replaced after use.
  • Chinese authorities have not announced a decision on whether foreign spectators will be allowed at the Winter Games, which start Feb. 4.

What they're saying: “A simpler and streamlined Olympics will become a must because of safety concerns,” said Zhong Bingshu, a Beijing municipal official, per the Times.

  • "All I can say is we will make every attempt to make sure that we can find the best conditions possible for all participants within the framework of dealing with a continuing pandemic, which I’m afraid will most certainly be having some quite large effects on us in February next year," said Mark Adams, an International Olympic Committee spokesperson, per the Times.

Between the lines: There's been a growing list of calls to move or boycott the Beijing Olympics over the Chinese government's human rights abuses.

  • Nearly half of Americans say China shouldn't be allowed to host the Winter Games in 2022 because of its record on human rights abuses, a recent Axios/Momentive poll found.

Go deeper: What we learned from the Tokyo Olympics

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