The safeguards did more than merely protect athletes from infection. They also protected China's newfound reputation as a competent steward of global public health in a pandemic crisis.
The idea that China, less than 20 years since bungling the SARS outbreak, has raised its game to world-class standards might be cause for celebration. A Chinese public-health system that is alert to pandemic pathogens and can bring the best technology and know-how to early warning of new viruses should be reassuring not just to the people of China but to the rest of the world. Yet China's strategy of relying on strict lockdown measures to keep the Omicron variant at bay may not be sustainable in the coming months. And animosity between the U.S. and China raises concerns about the world's prospects for battling future outbreaks.