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Beijing Winter Olympics bring challenges to China’s zero-Covid principles

Just two weeks before the start of the Chinese Olympic Games, authorities in Beijing issued a warning to the country to adhere strictly to its zero-Covid standards.

Citizens should avoid contact with vehicles carrying participants and officials, who will end the Games in so-called foam designed to prevent the spread of the country, the traffic bureau said. In the event of an accident, wait for specialists to come instead of intervening to help.

The law is one of the strongest measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus at the Olympics. The ceremony is supposed to be a huge success for China who climbed 14 years after the Beijing Summer Games but is still trying to test the country. to end the scourge.

China is the last country in the world to remain committed to zero-Covid principles but the way it is under pressure after the authorities locked millions people living in exploding homes as well doubtful growth about the effectiveness of its home-made vaccine.

Along with the epidemic, criticism of the country’s human rights record has led to a general strike by the US. Athletes were also warned of Beijing’s cyber defense plans at the most closed games in history, while the Canadian Olympian was told to drop their professional weapons at home.

China has reported fewer cases than other countries but cases have risen sharply last month, reaching December 27 with authorities reporting that 361 had been diagnosed with the disease, more than one day since early 2020. Confirmed cases dropped to 73 on Thursday.

But officials have remained steadfast in their commitment to tackling the virus, believing it to do so to protect the country from Omicron’s highly contagious varieties.

The Beijing Organizing Committee has imposed stricter rules for participants than at the Tokyo Summer Games last year. Athletes, sports officials and journalists are encouraged to receive the full vaccine before or after a 21-day solitary confinement.

The game show will take place within the closed corridor that separates foreign nationals and Chinese workers, while participants from other countries will have to board flights approved by the Beijing 2022 committee.

The start-up of the closed peak, which opened this month, showed only 1.53% of participants in the two weeks until January 19 were found to be optimistic and the prevalence was 0.02%, according to the International Olympic Committee and Beijing 2022.

But restrictions and concerns about the spread of coronavirus have forced TVs to take extraordinary action.

NBC, which owns a US broadcaster where it pays more than $ 1bn for the Olympics, said none of its broadcasters would attend the Games but would instead respond from the company’s headquarters. ESPN, the gaming network, does not send any journalists.

“We said Tokyo would be one of the most difficult Olympic events in our lives – and change,” said Molly Solomon, president and senior producer at NBC Olympics. “Beijing is unique in this regard.”

Mark Adams, spokesman for the IOC, said “some are wonderful times and this will be an amazing Winter Olympics”.

A Chinese government official stated: “We are terrified of this ceremony. “We need to make it a simple event without infecting the virus. That is a big problem.”

Despite the constant threat of the Covid-19, the incident has been monitored by foreign governments for violating China’s human rights. The US, Canada, UK and Australia are among the countries that have announced diplomatic boycott protesting against Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang, where more than 1m Uyghurs were detained in the camps.

National Speed ​​Skating Oval

China has built new facilities, including the National Speed ​​Skating Oval, for the Games © Mark Schifelbein / AP

An official in Beijing 2022 said athletes who express political views could be “punished”.

Richard Colbeck, Australian sports minister, he tells The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the comments were “very interesting” and that national athletes have the right to express their opinion.

Human Rights Watch, a campaign group, has called on IOC sponsors using their economic power to deal with the oppression of the Uyghurs. But allies do he avoided questions about how they run the Beijing Games.

Many human rights activists have urged Olympians to refrain from making political statements.

“We advise athletes not to talk,” said Rob Koehler, chief executive of Global Athlete, an international sports promotion team. “Go, go your way, and when you get home you must speak. It’s a pity we have to say that. ”

Maximilian Klein, a sports commentator at Athleten Deutschland, an independent German athletics organization, warned that public speaking could lead to problems in China. He pointed to recent treatment tennis star Peng Shuai, a three-time Olympic champion who went unnoticed after being allegedly raped by a Chinese official.

The IOC was criticized after Thomas Bach, the agency’s president, linked a 30-minute video with Peng saying he was “safe and sound”. Bach said he would meet Peng in Beijing before the Games.

“We have seen in Peng Shuai’s case that the IOC is not ready or able to protect the athletes in the Olympics,” Klein said.

But for athletes, just making an event in Beijing has been a success in itself.

Shaun White, a snowman in the US and three-time gold medalist, was one of several stars to perform a Covid-19 in recent weeks. He will take part in his fifth Olympic race after winning a bit this month after recovering.

“I am thankful that I started testing for HIV before the competition, so I am allowed to compete,” he said. “That would be frustrating to be where, you know, is the final race and I can’t climb.”

Additional reports of Wang Xueqiao in Shanghai

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