Beijing 2022 countermeasures ensure safe Games

21 Feb 2022
IOC News Beijing 2022

(Updated on February 21)

The stringent COVID-19 countermeasures, established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee, have ensured the safe and successful organisation of the Olympic Games, protecting all the Games participants and the local communities.

IOC / Danial Hakim IOC / Danial Hakim

Out of 1,873,113 airport and screening tests conducted since 23 January, when the closed-loop system came into effect officially, only 437 people have been found positive:

  • 265 confirmed positives out of 13,690 airport tests
  • 172 confirmed positives out of 1,859,423 screening tests
  • 98 athletes confirmed positive
  • 87 team officials confirmed positive
  • 252 other stakeholders confirmed positive.

“The closed-loop system has been a great success, with an infection rate of 0.01 per cent, and it has been one of the safest places on this planet, if not the safest,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “This is a great achievement, which I think has made all of us feel safe and comfortable. The message to the world is that, if everybody is respecting the rules in solidarity, you can even have such a great event like the Olympic Games under the terms of a pandemic.”

Covid Protocol Staff cleans a dining booth at the Beijing Olympic Village in Beijing © IOC / Danial Hakim

Airport and screening testing

Along with vaccinations and the closed-loop system, the comprehensive COVID-19 testing regime has been one of the key principles for ensuring safe and successful Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

In accordance with the measures described in the Beijing 2022 Playbooks, a three-layer testing process has been put in place to minimise the risks: in addition to taking pre-departure tests in their own country and testing upon arrival in Beijing, all Games participants have been subject to daily PCR testing run by medical personnel present in the accommodation facilities, including the Olympic Villages, and at the Olympic venues.

This COVID-19 testing has been organised by Beijing 2022 in accordance with the rules laid out in the Playbooks.

All the 1,873,113 tests have been performed by trained medical personnel in order to guarantee the quality of the swab collection.

The high-precision PCR tests have been conducted in certified laboratories adhering to the widely recognised international standards.

Dr Brian McCloskey, Chair of the Beijing 2022 Medical Expert Panel, said: “The situation inside the closed loop has always been extremely safe. There has never been any sign of infections spreading, certainly no sign of it spreading outside the closed loop. We have never set a target of zero cases inside the closed loop. We wanted to avoid the spread inside the loop, and the loop kept it from emerging out into the Chinese population.”

Automated hand sanitizer dispenser is pictured at the entrance of the dining hall at the Yanqing village in Beijing © IOC / Joshua Paul

Swift isolation of positive cases

All Games participants receiving a positive test result have been promptly isolated and close contacts identified, showing that the system in place has worked successfully, protecting the Games participants inside the closed loop and the Chinese population outside.

Some athletes have been among the people involved, and in some cases they have unfortunately had to withdraw from their competitions.

Commenting on the situation, Bach said: “We feel with the athletes who have had to pay the price for the safety of the Games and had to go into isolation. Some of them could not even compete, and for an athlete it’s the worst that can happen. This an extreme mental and psychological challenge. Such kind of isolation is a challenge for everybody, but for athletes it’s heavier.”

"We always said, in both Tokyo and Beijing, that the number-one priority would be the safety of all participants,” said IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi. “I felt for those who were in isolation, and I really felt for those who were not able to compete. At the same time, we have created conditions where close contacts could train and compete.”

A staff at the gym in the Beijing olympic village sanitizes the equipment after use for covid countermeasures  in Beijing © IOC / Danial Hakim

The COVID-19 countermeasures

The COVID-19 countermeasures for Beijing 2022 were established by the Playbooks. Throughout the Games, considering the low incidence of COVID-19 within the closed loop, a number of procedures were reviewed.

The objective was to minimise the impact on the Olympic experience, starting with the athletes. In particular, a special regime was put in place for participants whose PCR results had a Cycle Threshold (CT) greater than or equal to 35, to allow them to be treated as close contacts and continue with their duties.

The time period for which a person was deemed a close contact was reviewed as well, and was reduced from 14 to seven days.

These decisions were the result of all the countermeasures in place. In addition to testing, the adoption of other rules, such as social distancing, were very well established across all the venues and accommodation facilities and became true habits for the Games participants.

Finally, Games participants were constantly engaged in the very early stages prior to the Games, allowing them to be fully aware of the rules in place to protect everyone’s safety.

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