The National Hockey League announced yesterday, Wednesday, that the best ice hockey players in the world would not take part in the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The danger due to the new Omicron variant is too great. No club boss wants to risk having a player in quarantine in China for weeks. Due to the rapid spread, according to Han Zirong, it is likely that “a certain number of cases” will occur during the games. The requirements of the local authorities for the prevention of Covid-19 must be “vigorously implemented” in order to protect the safety of the Olympic participants and the Chinese public.
The appeal came shortly after a lockdown had been imposed on a metropolis of millions in China after a long time. It is well known that China has a strict zero-covid policy. Authorities imposed massive curfews on the 13 million residents of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. With a few exceptions, residents have not been allowed to leave their homes since midnight. A family member is allowed to go shopping every other day. 63 infections were reported on Thursday. The outbreak was due to “imported cases”, it said.
Strict precautions apply to the Winter Olympics. All Olympic participants can only move in “closed circuits”, have to undergo daily tests and are immediately isolated in the event of an infection. Foreign viewers are also not allowed. According to Han Zirong, there is still further research into whether and under what circumstances a domestic audience can participate. The plans would be announced “in good time”.
Huang Chun defended the planned strict measures such as isolation, quarantine and prolonged hospital stays for symptoms, which were one of the reasons for the professionals’ rejection. He also rejected changes. “We are convinced that these preventive and control measures will definitely reduce the risk of the viral disease spreading.” The safety of the athletes and other participants, the entire event and the Chinese population must also be ensured.
With strict measures such as curfews, mass tests, forced quarantine, contact tracing and extensive travel and entry restrictions, China has largely got the virus under control. For more than a year, the pandemic situation in the most populous country has been much better than in many other nations. Daily life and the economy have long since normalized. But the more contagious Delta variant has caused several outbreaks – and now those responsible fear the Omikron variant, which is spreading even faster.