Beijing Olympics to require vaccine or 21-day quarantine

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Beijing 2022 organizers have unveiled a rigorous set of Covid-19 protocols for the Winter Olympics next February, including the requirement that nearly all participants be vaccinated against the virus or undergo a 21-day quarantine which would effectively reduce their hopes of competition.

The requirements outlined in the first of a series of “game guides” are significantly stricter than those imposed by Tokyo organizers of the delayed Olympic Games held this summer, confirming signals already sent by Beijing.

Competitors and officials will need to arrive in Beijing on direct flights, which for many countries will need to be chartered flights. This rule did not exist for Tokyo.

They will have to take dedicated transport to their accommodation, training facilities and competition venues, which will be part of what the organizers have called a “closed loop”, a concept resembling the “bubble” model deployed. by some professional sports leagues in the United States.

The idea is that the inhabitants of the “closed loop” will have no contact with the general public or anyone outside the loop; they only leave it to go home. They will also need to perform pre-departure tests for Covid and undergo daily testing during the Games. Those who test positive will be isolated for an indefinite period, although organizers say teams will be able to access the facility where they are being held to bring them things and check them.

Athletes considered to be close contact with someone who tested positive and have an upcoming competition may still be allowed to participate by otherwise isolating themselves and testing themselves every 12 hours, then 6 hours before their event.

In Tokyo, participants were limited to locations identified on a pre-approved “business plan”; in practice, they often found themselves close to the Japanese public. Testing was done every few days, and the requirement was applied erratically. Without a vaccine requirement, their plans relied more on masks and distancing measures that Beijing organizers also say they will deploy.

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There are very few exceptions to Beijing’s requirement that athletes be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before leaving for China, although the rule leaves some leeway by relying on competing countries’ own definitions. of “fully vaccinated”, which means that a wide variety of vaccines and dosing regimens are possible.

“Anyone who is not fully vaccinated according to the requirements of their country / region of residence should be quarantined for 21 days upon arrival in Beijing,” the playbook says. It adds that it will not allow them. medical exemptions only on the basis of a review by a joint panel of experts selected by Beijing and the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.

Some people ineligible for a full vaccination according to their local requirements may also avoid quarantine if they can prove a previous infection, the playbook says. International committees have also said they will help countries get participants vaccinated before they go. travel to China if necessary.

Anticipating the position of the Beijing organizers, some major Olympic delegations had already introduced their own vaccine requirements for their members.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Olympic Committee have both said they will require participating athletes to be vaccinated, although the USOPC has also said it will consider requests for medical or religious exemptions.

Most of the top figure skaters in the United States reported that they had been vaccinated; officials said ski jumpers are too. And the US national ski and snowboard body has previously required its athletes to show proof of vaccination to participate in a national team camp or competition.

But the rules could be a bigger hurdle for some Winter Olympic powers, including the Russians, even if they will compete again without their national ID as punishment after the World Anti-Doping Agency convicts Russia of ” running a state sponsored doping program.

Alexandra Trusova performs in the women’s free skate at Skate America on October 24.


Photo:

Ronda Churchill / Associated press

Many of Russia’s top contenders are teenagers, including Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova, who are both 17, and Kamila Valieva and Daria Usacheva, who are 15. Russia has yet to approve a vaccine for under-18s; trials are ongoing.

Trusova and Usacheva won gold and silver respectively at Skate America, the first stop on the international figure skating Grand Prix circuit, in Las Vegas on Sunday. Both said they were not vaccinated but would be prepared to do so if necessary.

Some adult skaters in the Russian delegation also said they had not yet been vaccinated but were planning to be.

—Rachel Bachman contributed to this article.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at [email protected]

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