Strict COVID rules expected for Beijing Winter Olympics

Society & Culture

China has received internal pushback from the IOC and various national Olympic committees about potential quarantine measures for athletes.

Strict covid-19 restrictions Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Is Beijing 2022 on course to have more stringent COVID-19 rules than Tokyo 2020? Earlier this month, the country enforced strict COVID rules for the National Games, a multi-sport national Olympiad. The Wall Street Journal reports that China could mandate foreign athletes, officials, and media quarantine before entering the Olympic bubble.

The Journal also reports that spectators will need to show proof of vaccination to attend events. It’s possible that foreign fans will not be allowed to attend. The current quarantine requirement for international arrivals in China is a minimum of 14 days.

But no policies have been announced by the government or the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As we reported last month, it’s probable that foreign spectators won’t be allowed in to watch the Games. But a source recently told us that China has received internal pushback from the IOC and various national Olympic committees about potential quarantine measures for athletes, something they say is not in the spirit of fair competition.

Contrary to the Wall Street Journal report of pre-event quarantines, it’s our understanding that the more likely option has shifted from quarantine on arrival to a very strict bubble in which vaccinated athletes can enter directly if they can present a series of negative test results.

Under this plan, which is one of many drawn up by the Beijing Organizing Committee, athletes will be required to leave China within 24 to 48 hours after their event. The COVID rules inside the bubble are expected to be very rigorous. The Chinese team will be required to quarantine for three weeks before they can re-enter society after the Games.

This plan is also expected to apply to international media and officials, who will be put into a separate bubble. In addition, each of the competition areas will have separate bubbles, with the Games spread out between Beijing, Zhangjiakou, and Chongli.

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All athletes, media, and officials, Chinese and international, will be barred from leaving the designated areas. Media will stay in their own hotel and will not have the opportunity to leave the hotel except for events they have specifically registered for. The media will only be allowed to leave their hotel on specially designated busses that will take them to and from events.

The Beijing Winter Olympics starts on February 4, with the Paralympics starting a month later.

UPDATE, 9/30: According to the IOC, “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.”


China’s basketball team at the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup

China women's basketball at FIBA women's Asia World Cup

China’s women’s national basketball team has arrived in Aman, Jordan, looking to claim a record-equalling 12th Asia Cup title. It has a young team that gained valuable experience at the recent Tokyo Olympics, where it finished fifth, losing 77-70 to Serbia in the quarterfinals after leading by as many as nine points in the second half.

China has been drawn into Group B with world No. 3 Australia, Chinese Taipei, and the Philippines. Its toughest competition may be in the opposite group, in four-time defending champion Japan.

China has been slightly hamstrung by the fact that most of its roster competed at the National Games, which concluded last week.

“We didn’t have much time for rest after the Olympic Games in the lead-up to this National Games and the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup,” the team’s assistant coach and acting head coach Zheng Wei told Xinhua. “We just competed with ourselves at the National Games with an aim to improve our offense and defense. I’m proud of my players.”

China will also be hurt by the absence of star Shào Tíng 邵婷, who was forced to pull out with an injury.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the knockout phase, in addition to securing a ticket to the FIBA World Cup in 2022. China will start its campaign against the Philippines tonight before taking on Chinese Taipei and Australia tomorrow and Wednesday. UPDATE: China beat the Philippines 143-52.


Other Stories:

Naturalized athlete Nina Schultz wins gold at China’s National Games (Global Times)

China’s Olympic weightlifting heroes in world record form at National Games (Inside the Games)

Why China’s National Games can be tougher than the Olympics (SCMP)

New limits give Chinese E-Gamers whiplash (NYT)

The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.