Beijing Tries To Keep Winter Olympics COVID Concerns Under Control

Organizers of the Winter Olympics have tried to allay fears about COVID-19 after 45 new cases of the disease were detected inside the Games' tightly controlled bubble—the second highest since teams from all over the world started arriving in Beijing.

According to official data, the nearly four dozen new cases detected on Friday was more than twice than the number recorded a day earlier, when 21 infections were found, Reuters reported.

The latest infections included 26 arrivals at the airport.

Another 19 tested positive who were in the "closed loop" which isolates teams from the general public and allows athletes only to move between accommodation and Olympic venues on official transport.

Those inside the Games' bubble are tested on a daily basis in an effort to quickly identify any infections within the loop.

Friday's new cases included 25 athletes and team officials, with the rest including journalists and diplomats.

On Saturday, Huang Chun, the Games' deputy director-general of the office of pandemic prevention and control, told reporters while the number of cases is increasing, "it is within our expectation," adding that we "think the number will start to decrease."

Almost all of the 2,900 expected in Beijing have arrived, with other arrivals including team support staff, officials and media.

Huang said there had been a wide range of daily infection numbers of Games-related personnel, from as many as 55 on February 2 to as few as two on February 2.

"The day before yesterday we had almost 20 flights, many flights arriving at midnight," he said on Saturday, which meant some of the numbers "have to be accumulated to the next day."

However, athletes who have tested positive have criticized the conditions in the accommodation they must isolate in. Those who test positive and have symptoms must go to hospital, while those without symptoms need to quarantine in a designated hotel.

The German delegation head Dirk Schimmelpfennig slammed the "unreasonable" living conditions, the Associated Press reported.

Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans made a tearful post on social media as she complained about the lack of information, although she was eventually brought back to the village from the hotel.

Meanwhile, Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova took to Instagram to complain of the food in her hotel, saying "my stomach hurts, I'm very pale" and, "I'm very tired."

Rolling Stone reported last month that in the weeks leading up to the 2022 Olympic Games, event executives, games' organizers, and several national medical experts had discussed the possibility of pausing the action if the disease did take a hold.

Meanwhile, athletes are fearful that a positive test could mean the end of a lifetime's dream. "Obviously it's every athlete's nightmare to just not be able to compete," French ice dancer Guillaume Cizeron told the publication.

Members of Team Switzerland
Members of Team Switzerland at the Olympic Village ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games are shown in this illustrative image. There has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in the bubble isolating participants from the public. ANTHONY WALLACE/Getty