According to AFP, on Jan. 29th, among the official Canadian delegations to participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics, five people tested positive for COVID-19. They will be managed under the “Beijing 2022” epidemic prevention rules.
The Canadian delegation currently on the ground in China consists of 246 people. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) did not specify whether any of the 215 athletes were in protocols. Canada is bringing around 600 people to the Games, including athletes, coaches and staff, reported the media outlet CBC.
The COC did not specify whether the five were athletes, coaches, or organizers. According to CBC, it also informed that it would not be sharing names “because there will likely be persistent shedders,” meaning people who continue to test positive for the virus long after their initial diagnosis.
According to the relevant data from organizers of the 2022 Winter Olympics, a total of 5,092 COVID tests have been carried out on athletes or other members of the delegation so far. Among them, 23 people tested positive for COVID-19.
The COC stated that one of the strategies of the Canadian delegation for the Winter Olympics was to arrive early to give members time to test for COVID-19. In this way, should the need arise, members would have time to organize per the procedures issued by the medical expert panel.
CBC reported that the COC said it would work with athletes to release specific names if a positive test made them unable to compete. It planned to release daily updates on the number of team members in protocols.
At a press conference in Beijing on January 29th, Brian McCloskey, chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC’s) medical committee, said that many athletes came from countries where COVID-19 cases were on the rise.” and “this time the fact that a number of Canadian athletes tested positive could actually reflect the real situation of the epidemic in Canada. The IOC was prepared for that.
“We expect the prevalence in Canadian athletes to be equal to the prevalence in the Canadian population at present, which is quite high,” he said.
Canada is battling a sharp rise in Covid cases, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is currently isolated after being exposed to the virus, according to Barron’s.
McCloskey pointed out that the biggest challenge of the Beijing Winter Olympics was not to ensure that no one was positive but to control it through the existing methods.
Athletes were required to provide two negative COVID-19 tests within 96 hours of boarding the plane to China, plus one more upon arrival.
According to CBC, citing the 2022 Olympic playbook, on the flight, athletes were grouped by sport to remain within the “bubbles” in which they’ve been living and training. There were empty seats between each athlete and an empty row between sports since those within two rows of someone who tests positive count as “close contacts.”
Athletes and other Games personnel will be kept away from the general public under the “closed-loop” management system, popularly known as the “Olympic Bubble.”
The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to take place from February 4th to 20, but the fast-spreading Omicron variety has already struck Beijing as COVID-19 clusters are popping up all over the country. According to Reuters, Beijing reported 14 local COVID-19 cases on January 26th, the highest daily tally in the current outbreak.
The lockdown policy has been applied to over 20 million Chinese residents in at least five cities.
Despite the strict lockdown measures in other infected cities, including Tianjin’s megacity Xi’an, which is only a two-hour drive from Beijing, China officials said in early January that they have no plans to lock down Beijing or change the Olympics schedule or virus-control measures in response to Omicron.
According to the Chinese language media outlet Da Ji Yuan, many local officials in Beijing were taken aback by this declaration, which contradicts China’s “zero-tolerance approach” to the virus.
More looks to be at stake for the Chinese regime, but Chinese Olympic medallist Huang Xiaomin said that China would most certainly go ahead with the Winter Games no matter what, even if the pandemic worsened.
Huang added, “The CCP has been preparing for [the Olympics] for more than seven years. It will stop at nothing to make it happen on time. The safety of the athletes or the international pressure for delaying [the Games] is among the least of its concerns.”
The 2022 Beijing Olympics faced a diplomatic boycott from the United States and other governments over widely documented atrocities carried out by China against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and other minority groups. However, China denies allegations that its actions in the region constitute a genocide.