Police escorts, hazmat suits - welcome to Beijing’s Olympic bubble

CHINA is sealing the Beijing Olympics inside an impenetra¬ble giant bubble cocooning thou¬sands of people and stretching nearly 200 kilometres (120 miles) in an effort to thwart the coro¬navirus. 

AFP takes you inside the bubble for the 4-20 February Winter Games: 

What is the ‘closed loop’? 

China, where the virus emerged towards the end of 2019, hopes to deliver a “simple, safe and splendid” Games in keep¬ing with the country’s strict ze¬ro-Covid strategy. 

To limit the spread of infec¬tion, athletes, support staff, vol¬unteers and media will be in a so-called “closed loop” — aka the bubble — for the whole Games. 

Rather than sealing off one huge area of the capital, the bubble will in reality be numer¬ous mini bubbles, such as a cor¬doned-off hotel on a street used by everyday Beijingers. For those flying into China they will be in the closed loop from the moment that they land in the Chinese capital to the time they fly out. The bubble came into operation last week. 

Unlike last summer’s pan¬demic-delayed Tokyo Games, where for example media were able to leave the bubble after two weeks and head out into public, nobody will be able to leave the “closed loop” during the Games. 

That includes for sleeping, eating and travel between the three Games areas, which are as far as 180 kilometres apart. 

AFP staff were transported between the airport and their ho¬tel — having had their first Covid test — in special buses escorted by police cars. 

Staff at the airport wore haz¬mat suits with masks and visors. 

How many people are inside? 

There are no firm numbers. However, there will be about 3,000 athletes and Chinese state media estimates 10,000 people from the media will be at the Games. 

There will also an army of staff powering the Olympic sites, from translators to cleaners, ho¬tel staff and drivers.— AFP