The 2022 Winter Olympics: Preparations and Precautions being made


Emma Ka

With new rules and regulations, the 2022 Winter Olympics are different than years past.

Emma Ka and Mark Zhou

More than a decade after the 2008 Olympics, Beijing, the capital of China, is hosting the Olympics once again. However, this time, the Chinese government faces a great challenge — Covid-19. 

At the beginning of the Covid pandemic in 2020, the Summer Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021 due to concerns with the spread of the virus. However, despite cases still continuing to rise, the 2022 Winter Olympics is set to take place in upcoming weeks from February 4 to February 20. 

This year, there is more to watch than ever before, with a total of 109 events divided into seven sports: bobsledding, curling, ice hockey, skating, luge, biathlon, and skiing/snowboarding. In addition to these traditionally featured events, seven new ones were also added this year in an effort to incorporate mixed-gender teams. 

To boost the Olympic spirit, the mascot of Beijing’s games has just been revealed to be a panda named Bing Dwen Dwen, wrapped in a sheet of ice. Bing means ice, and is used to symbolize purity and strength while Dwen Dwen represents well-roundedness. 

With the recent Omicron surge, China is tightening up its “zero-covid policy” and extremely strict quarantine and testing laws. Infographic

China already requires anyone traveling into the country to quarantine in a hotel for 3 weeks, much more than what other countries require. However, because of the thousands of foreigners entering the country for the Olympics, China is sealing off boundaries near the competition zones from the rest of Beijing to contain any outbreaks. Infographic

There are three competition zones: Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou, all for different types of sports. Thousands of vehicles are designated to transport people from and within these zones, with distances more than 100 miles. These special vehicles are marked and driven in reserved lanes, and the general population has to always maintain a distance from these vehicles. 

This is an ambitious project — the bubbles require enormous amounts of regulation and maintenance, and there are ​​about 19,000 volunteers working inside. 

The Covid measures also affect the lives of many Beijing residents. 

“There is stricter control to prepare for the Olympics with all the foreigners coming. For example, if you’re in close contact with someone, you have to be quarantined for 14 days. You also need a permit to leave or enter the city,” said Anonymous, who resides in Beijing.  

However, most Chinese citizens support hosting Covid in the middle of the Omicron surge instead of postponing the event like Tokyo did. “I think most people support it because the tightened regulations are doing a good job of keeping people safe, even though they might seem inconvenient, ” said Anonymous.

The participants and officials in the bubbles are subject to strict Covid protocols, such as daily Covid testing, eating food delivered using robotic arms, and even armpit body temperature sensors. The Olympic committee also suggests that spectators clap instead of cheer to reduce the air particles breathed out. 

“I think the measure of restriction taken at the Olympics are reasonable although many fans do not because of harsh consequences of testing positive,” said Michael Hu (‘23).

 He also compares the restrictions he and his team had to face. “We’ve only had to use masks and social distancing,” said Hu.