Olympics: Beijing Games had 72 COVID cases, none athletes, among early arrivals


Posted at Jan 23 2022 10:52 PM

A security guard stands near the closed loop
A security guard stands near the closed loop "bubble" at the Main Press Center ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China January 23, 2022. Tyrone Siu/File Photo, Reuters

BEIJING - Beijing Olympics organizers said on Sunday that they had confirmed 72 cases of COVID-19 among 2,586 Games-related personnel entering China from Jan. 4 to Jan. 22, with no cases among 171 athletes and team officials arriving in that period.

Final preparations are taking place for the Winter Games amid a global surge in cases of the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus variant. The Games are set to take place from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20 inside a "closed loop" bubble that separates all event personnel from the public.

Of the confirmed cases, 39 were found in testing at the airport and 33 inside the loop, organizers said. Participants in the bubble are subject to daily testing, with 336,421 PCR tests administered from Jan. 4 to Jan. 22.

All Games participants need two negative PCR test results within 96 hours of their departure to China, and most are traveling on specially arranged charter flights.

Last week, organizers said that tickets for the Olympics would not be sold to the general public due to COVID-19, and would instead be distributed to groups of people who would be required to undertake strict prevention measures before, during and after attending events.

China has managed to contain domestic outbreaks of COVID-19 since it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, and has all but shut its borders to international arrivals.

On Sunday, Beijing's city government introduced further measures to contain COVID-19 after finding nine locally transmitted cases the previous day. 

Reporting by Tony Munroe; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Alexander Smith)