By CANDICE CHOI, Related Press
Athletes will have to be vaccinated — or face a protracted quarantine — take exams each day and put on masks when not competing or coaching. Clapping is OK to cheer on teammates, not chanting. Anybody who exams optimistic for COVID-19 shall be despatched into isolation and unable to compete till cleared for discharge.
Welcome to the Beijing Olympics, the place strict containment measures will purpose to create a virus-proof “bubble” for hundreds of worldwide guests at a time when omicron is fueling infections globally.
The prevention protocols shall be just like these on the Tokyo Video games this summer time, however a lot tighter. That will not be a stretch in Beijing, with China having maintained a “Zero COVID” coverage since early within the pandemic.
Nonetheless, China’s means to stay to its zero-tolerance method nationally is already being examined by the extremely transmissible omicron variant, which is extra contagious than earlier variants of the virus and higher in a position to evade safety from vaccines.
With simply weeks to go earlier than the Feb. 4 begin of the Video games, greater than 20 million individuals in six cities are beneath lockdown after latest outbreaks.
Right here’s how the Video games will work.
DO ATHLETES HAVE TO BE VACCINATED?
Sure, athletes and different members together with group employees and information media have to be totally vaccinated to be allowed within the designated Olympic areas with out finishing a 21-day quarantine. These areas will include the Olympic Village, recreation venues, different choose spots and devoted transport.
That’s totally different from the Tokyo Video games, the place members didn’t should be vaccinated.
Contributors are thought of totally vaccinated in keeping with the definitions outlined by their nations. Earlier than boarding their flights, everybody additionally wants to supply two latest damaging exams from authorised labs.
The specter of being sidelined by a optimistic check is including to the stress for athletes.
Mogul skier Hannah Soar stated she’s avoiding contact with individuals indoors and behaving as if everybody has the virus: “We’re principally on the level of performing prefer it’s March 2020.”
Upon arrival on the airport in Beijing, members may have their temperatures taken and be examined with throat and nasal swabs. An Olympics official who not too long ago arrived on web site stated at a press briefing the method took him 45 minutes, although organizers notice occasions may differ.
A bus will then take individuals to their designated lodging, the place they’ll wait as much as six hours for check outcomes to clear them to maneuver about in authorised areas. Restrictions on motion inside that “closed loop” are meant to seal off any potential contact between Olympic members and the native inhabitants.
Throat swabs for testing shall be required each day for all members. In Tokyo, members spit into vials for antigen exams.
Commonplace prevention measures are being inspired, akin to ventilating rooms and maintaining a distance of about 3 ft (1 meter) from others – or 6 ft (2 meters) from athletes.
Masks which might be N95 or of an identical caliber can even be required in indoor and out of doors areas with few exceptions, akin to when individuals are consuming or consuming. Eating halls may have partitions and seating capability shall be diminished to assist preserve distancing.
In areas the place distancing isn’t potential, akin to elevators, speaking isn’t allowed. Workers shall be stationed in key areas to assist information individuals and guarantee protocols are being adopted.
WHAT HAPPENS IF AN ATHLETE TESTS POSITIVE?
In Tokyo, organizers say 33 athletes examined optimistic throughout the Video games. Of these, 22 had been withdrawn from from competitors. Even with the tightened precautions in Beijing, consultants say some optimistic exams are possible, particularly with omicron in play.
If an athlete or different participant exams optimistic however doesn’t have signs, they’ll want to enter isolation in a devoted lodge. They’ll be supplied with meals and may open their home windows for contemporary air however gained’t have the ability to go away their rooms, which organizers say shall be about 270 sq. ft (25 sq. meters).
Athletes can request health gear for coaching.
Folks with no signs can go away isolation after two days of damaging exams. Organizers say these testing optimistic shall be reviewed on a case-by-case foundation, nevertheless it may nonetheless be too late for athletes to compete.
As a basic rule, organizers say the panel will overview those that maintain testing optimistic for greater than 14 days.
Those that check optimistic and have signs have to enter isolation in a hospital. They’ll additionally want to 2 days of damaging exams to be let unfastened, in addition to three days of regular temperatures and signs subsiding.
Organizers have stated athletes who get better after testing optimistic forward of the Video games can even be assessed on a case-by-case foundation in a “extra versatile method.”
Spectators from abroad gained’t be allowed. As for native followers, Beijing organizers say they’re finalizing guidelines for his or her attendance.
It is not clear how the latest outbreaks round China will issue into the choices. However organizers of the Tokyo Video games had additionally deliberate to permit some home followers, earlier than scrapping the thought as a result of a surge in native circumstances. The outcome was surreal scenes of athletes competing in empty stadiums.
Even when some followers are allowed in Beijing, their presence shall be muted. Everyone seems to be being requested to clap as an alternative of shouting or singing, as had been the plan in Tokyo.
Regardless of the omicron-fueled surge hitting many elements of the world together with China, organizers should still have the ability to pull off the Olympics with out as a lot disruption as some worry.
Olympic athletes are extremely motivated to keep away from an infection to allow them to compete, famous Dr. Sandro Galea, a public well being skilled at Boston College. And even when it is more durable with omicron, he famous it’s no thriller what individuals have to do to keep away from an infection — take prevention measures, akin to limiting publicity to others.
AP Sports activities Author Pat Graham contributed from Denver.
The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials is probably not printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.