lørdag 8. januar 2022

Omicron risk and record Delta outbreak threaten to burst China’s ‘pre-Game’ Olympic bubble

On Tuesday, China officially opened its bubble for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, setting the stage for thousands of medal hopefuls and other participants to descend on what has been the most sealed-off country in the world since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“China has vowed to present the world with streamlined, safe, and splendid Games,” China’s state-run newspaper, the China Daily, proclaimed on Tuesday. But the opening of the bubble is coinciding with the global rise of Omicron as well as China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since the early days of the pandemic in the winter and spring of 2020, a double-pronged threat that poses one of the most severe challenges yet to China's uncompromising pursuit of a COVID-zero strategy.

The Olympic Games are set to begin on Feb. 4, but the “pre-Game” bubble will allow all Olympic-related personnel coming from abroad to enter the country without quarantine. The 2,000 or so athletes as well as some 25,000 other Games participants, including coaches, media members, and foreign dignitaries, will be sequestered away from China’s general public in a bubble, or “closed loop management system,” as Beijing 2022 organizers call it.