BEIJING (Reuters) – Organisers of the Beijing Winter Olympics sought to assure participants on Tuesday that the February event would operate nearly as normal, with vendors selling souvenirs, foreign cuisines and beer at venues – but all inside a self-contained bubble.
The Games will take place Feb. 4 to Feb. 20, without overseas spectators and with all participants subject to daily COVID-19 tests, as China sticks with a zero-COVID policy using some of the world’s most stringent measures.
Much about how the games will be conducted remains uncertain, including how tickets will be distributed to local spectators, who will be segregated from athletes and other personnel at venues in the city of Beijing and at Zhangjiakou in Hebei province.
“Nothing has changed at all – just the COVID prevention measures, which are like donning a raincoat,” Xu Jicheng, an official with Beijing Organising Committee (BOCOG), told a media briefing.
Such measures, including strict isolation from those outside the Games, could be “a little inconvenient,” he acknowledged.
During the games, athletes, journalists, staff and volunteers will remain within a “bubble” under a so-called closed-loop management.
Services replicating those offered by Beijing attractions – like its bar district and Silk Market – will be available inside the bubble, officials said. There will also be convenience stores and shopping.
Xu said the inconvenience of the COVID-19 measures would be small compared to the gains in public health, referring to the athletes’ mantra “no pain no gain”.
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Tony Munroe)