As the Olympic Winter Games finish off their final week in Beijing, organizers are reporting that the COVID-19 countermeasures put in place for all arriving participants and stakeholders appear to be having the intended effect. On February 16, the organizing committee reported that for the first time during the Games, there were no positive tests in the so-called closed loop that is governing the rules of engagement for all Olympic participants on site. The day before, only person — not an athlete — tested positive among stakeholders.
The milestone of no positive cases over the course of a single day came after 68,970 PCR tests just on February 16 alone, including 5,239 among athletes. The day before, organizers said they administered 69,786 PCR tests inside the closed loop, including 5,899 for athletes and team officials. The one person who tested positive registered their test at customs upon arrival in Beijing.
Overall, more than 400 people have tested positive during the Games, including more than 180 athletes, although the peak of those positive tests came February 2, just two days before the Opening Ceremony. Since then, numbers have been on a steady decline.
Huang Chun, the deputy director general for the Office of Pandemic Prevention and Control of the Beiing Organizing Committee, said the results show that the significant countermeasures put in place for the Games appear to be working.
“Every day we’re seeing very few number of confirmed positive cases,” he said. “We are taking very stringent COVID measures within the closed loop. It was not our target to have zero positive cases. Against the background of the global pandemic, we know for sure there will be imported cases. But the Games are going on. We are optimistic, but still need to be very careful. The success of the countermeasures means the success of the Games.”
IOC Spokesman Mark Adams also noted that the organizers will soon be shifting the majority of their attention to depature procedures, which will also require participants to register negative tests before leaving Beijing. “We sometimes forget we are in the middle of a global pandemic and we are hosting one of the most complex international competitions or events in the world very successfully,” he said. “We are not complacent. The Games are not over yet. We are making sure those who need to leave the country can do so safely. That is still a logistical challenge.”
February 21 is expected to the peak day for Olympic departures. The Games are scheduled to conclude on February 20 with the Closing Ceremony.