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Beijing Winter Olympics Will Use Chartered Flights To Fly Athletes In Amid Covid-19 Travel Curbs

Published 5 months ago
By Forbes
Getty Images

TOPLINE

Athletes participating in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will have to fly into the city on temporary or chartered flights, the games’ organizers said on Friday, amid host nation China’s stringent pandemic travel restrictions that places a limit on the number of flights entering the country.

KEY FACTS

Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic situation was still “severe and complicated,” organizing committee official Zhang Liang said athletes and other attendees will be flown in on chartered flights from cities such as Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo and Singapore.

After arriving in Beijing, attendees and athletes will have to enter a “closed loop”—a bubble which will be strictly separated from the rest of China—and remain there for their entire stay.

At least 15 inbound flights and 13 outbound flights will fly into and out of Beijing every day, Zhang said.

The organizers added they will work with Chinese and foreign airlines to help arrange these temporary flights.

The Winter Games are scheduled to begin on February 4 and like the summer games in Tokyo this year, all events will take place without any crowds in attendance.

KEY BACKGROUND

In October, the games’ organizers outlined their plans for a “closed loop” system for Olympic participants in accordance with the Chinese government’s stringent ‘zero-Covid’ pandemic policy. Similar to the Tokyo Games this summer, the Winter Olympics has put out a so-called “playbook” that outlines the various pandemic related rules and penalties that participants may face for non-compliance. The closed loop is designed to completely isolate everyone involved in the event from the rest of China, to prevent any possible outbreaks. This system will include dedicated transport, housing and training facilities and fully vaccinated athletes will be required to enter the loop immediately upon arrival in Beijing. Unvaccinated participants will be required to serve a mandatory 21-day quarantine in a specially designated facility. According to the playbook, athletes who fail to comply with the rules will face immediate disqualification from the games and expulsion from the country.

TANGENT

Besides the challenge from Covid-19, the Beijing 2022 games will take place on the backdrop of a growing diplomatic boycott of the event by several western nations. Earlier this week, the U.S. became the first country in the world to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in response to China’s human rights record. The boycott—which is largely symbolic—will see Washington not send any “any diplomatic or official representation,” to the event. Several other nations have announced similar diplomatic boycotts since then including the U.K., Canada and Australia.

FURTHER READING

Beijing Games to bring in athletes on chartered, temporary flights (Reuters)

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