Beijing 2022 starts official use of closed-loop system
Cross-province high-speed railway separates Olympic participants from ordinary passengers
Published: Jan 03, 2022 09:17 PM
Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Photo:VCG

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Photo:VCG

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games' pre-game closed-loop management will officially start operating on Tuesday to welcome all Olympic-related personnel from overseas, signaling the final stage of preparations for the Games.

At the venues and media center, managers said they are fully prepared. The high-speed trains that will transport Olympic-related personnel among several competition areas will adopt divided carriages to separate Olympic participants from ordinary passengers, as the Games coincide with the country's Spring Festival. 

Starting from Tuesday, the venues will start their pre-game closed-loop management, Zhao Chengfang, a deputy head of the COVID-19 prevention department at the Capital Gymnasium, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"Event support staff from overseas will arrive at the venues to begin their work from Tuesday," Zhao said. "Venues will also begin to strictly enforce the same vaccination policies as those in place for the Games. Local Olympic-related personnel will also enter the closed loop."

The Big Air Shougang, a competition venue located in the urban area of Beijing, entered closed-loop management in advance on Saturday, in order to better cooperate with foreign experts in snow making and storage, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

According to the code issued by the Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, the pre-game closed-loop management requirements are essentially the same as those for the Winter Olympics, strictly limiting games-related personnel to a few fixed venues with no access to the outside world. These personnel were required to undergo daily virus testing and were also only allowed to move between venues as arranged by the organizers.

However, before the official start of the Games, Olympic-related personnel who have been in the closed loop for 21 days and are not showing symptoms are free to move within the loop.

The main media center will also begin operating under closed-loop management on Tuesday, Zhang Lidong, chief engineer of the China National Convention Center, to be used as the Main Media Center (MMC) for the Beijing Winter Olympics, told the Global Times.

The MMC is divided into two parts, inside and outside the closed loop, both of which will host journalists from home and abroad, which poses an additional challenge to the outbreak prevention and control of the center. This venue is also strictly designed to be partitioned to ensure that personnel activities do not cross over. Even items from inside the closed ring cannot be sent outside the closed loop.

No overseas journalists have arrived at the center yet, Zhang said. "Relevant staff will start working on Tuesday, while media reporters are expected to arrive in a few weeks."

An impartial judge of the alpine skiing events surnamed Ma told the Global Times that she will enter the closed-loop management in mid-January, about two weeks before the Games start. The referees will stay in the closed-off area until April after completing a 21-day quarantine when all Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are over. 

Other venue supporting staff at indoor venues in Beijing told the Global Times that they will enter the closed loop three weeks ahead. All the supporting staff have received booster shots, and there will be a back-up staff member for every post, in case a staff member on their post tests positive for COVID-19. 

Since the Beijing Winter Olympics involves three competition zones in two cities, China will provide high-speed railroads for athletes and other personnel to travel to and from the competition zones. High-speed trains with a maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour will transport Olympic-related personnel to and from the competition zones, which are more than 100 kilometers apart.

Based on the principle that Olympic participants will not have contact with ordinary passengers, Qinghe, Taizicheng and Yanqing stations along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway line will be divided into epidemic prevention zones and ordinary zones, Yu Shun, captain of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway operation team, told the Global Times.

A Global Times reporter saw at the Taizicheng station in Zhangjiakou, North China's Hebei Province that the Winter Olympic Organizing Committee had set up a service center, waiting area and passageway specifically for the athletes to ensure that they did not come into contact with ordinary passengers during their journeys.

Yu explained that the epidemic prevention zone is part of the biosecurity loop, in which platforms, channels, transfer zones and working staff are all fixed, while the ordinary zones will operate normally with midway temperature measurement services on the train.

As the timing of the Beijing Winter Olympics coincides with the  traditional Chinese Spring Festival, the transportation of Olympic personnel will coincide with China's largest migration wave of people, called chunyun, which is considered by observers as a challenge that the Beijing Winter Olympics needs to face in terms of epidemic prevention.

In response, the Beijing-Zhangzhou high-speed railway has arranged 40 pairs of Winter Olympic trains and special trains for the opening and closing ceremonies. 

Dedicated carriages and trains have also been set up for Winter Olympics transport services, requiring strict ventilation and disinfection to ensure the safety of passengers from all sides.