Winter Olympics had 72 COVID cases among early arrivals

Organisers of the Beijing Winter Olympics organisers said on Sunday they had confirmed 72 cases of COVID-19 among 2,586 Games-related personnel entering China from 4-22 January.

They added that three were no cases among 171 athletes and team officials arriving in that period.

Final preparations are taking place for the games amid a continuing global surge in cases of the highly infectious Omicron COVID variant.

The games are set to take place from 4-20 February inside a “closed loop” bubble that separates all event personnel from the public.

Of the confirmed cases, 39 were found in testing at the airport and 33 inside the loop, organisers said. Participants in the bubble are subject to daily testing, with 336,421 PCR tests administered from 4-22 January.

Brian McCloskey, chair of the Beijing 2022 medical expert panel, said that the numbers were consistent with those at last summer’s Tokyo Games and in line with expectations.

“We never set a target of zero cases in the closed loop,” he told an online media briefing on Sunday.

All games participants need two negative PCR test results within 96 hours of their departure to China, and most are travelling on specially arranged charter flights.

Last week, organisers said that tickets for the Olympics would not be sold to the general public due to COVID-19, and would instead be distributed to groups of people who would be required to undertake strict prevention measures before, during and after attending events.

China has managed to contain domestic outbreaks of COVID-19 since it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, and has all but shut its borders to international arrivals.

On Sunday, Beijing’s city government introduced further measures to contain COVID-19 after finding nine locally transmitted cases the previous day.

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