Western groups step up disinformation efforts as Beijing Winter Olympics approaches
Published: Jan 11, 2022 09:25 PM
Beijing Winter Olympics

Beijing Winter Olympics

Three weeks ahead of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Western media and agencies intensified their attack on the event by concocting lies and hyping the game's COVID-19 prevention policies, which include Chinese meat making athletes violate  doping regulations; Beijing to lockdown during the event, and that China used PCR tests to keep athletes out of Beijing.

In the eyes of observers, those detractors are attempting to throw mud at the games and to quibble China's preparations of it. Yet Beijing's concrete plan and steady push for the games will prove them wrong; and that those misinformation won't stop China from holding a successful and fabulous sports fest. Even if Omicron has made inroads into the country and several places face flare-ups, Beijing is prepared with various plans to show its responsible attitude towards the athletes and the Chinese people, said experts. 

German Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) warned the country's athletes not to eat Chinese meat, as they may risk ingesting clenbuterol, and then be subjected to doping regulations. 

China will do its utmost to guarantee food safety for the athletes attending the event. From the sampling survey in the past two years, 98 percent of meat in China pass safety qualifications, Zhu Yi, an associate professor of food safety at China Agricultural University, told the Global Times, noting that it is safe to say it is impossible for Chinese people to consume clenbuterol.

China imposed a strict ban on clenbuterol and conducted a three-month examination targeting the steroid. The NADA's concerns are not necessary, and is a misunderstanding about China's food safety situation, according to Zhu. 

China is prepared to prevent the occurrence of food-borne doping during the games. Officials from the country's State Administration for Market Regulation said in November 2021 that enterprises have to closely monitor pork production, to ensure food safety and prevent food-borne doping incidents. 

The General Administration of Sport rolled out a guideline in November 2021 asking caterers of the game to closely examine steroids such as clenbuterol, and strictly punish any violations. 

A safe game

As several places, such as Tianjin, a municipality close to Beijing, and North China's Henan Province are facing a resurgence of COVID-19, and Omicron, the more contagious variant, found its way to communities, many foreign media, including the New York Times and Washington Post painted a dark picture of hosting the Olympics, and some even claimed Beijing will impose a lockdown during the games. 

Huang Chun, a deputy director general of the Pandemic Prevention and Control Office of the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee, said on Tuesday that locking Beijing down during the event is off the table for now.

He said that the closed-loop operation since January 4 has been working smoothly. The overall situation is under control. Unless there's a large, systematic outbreak during the event, there's no need to adjust the current COVID-19 prevention policies, according to Huang.

A police notice on Sunday asking Beijing residents to stay a safe distance with Olympics vehicles, and do not knock the special vehicles' windows was also hyped by foreign media, saying Beijing police asked people not to help crashed Olympics vehicles. 

Peking University respiratory specialist Wang Guangfa pointed out that the notice intends to warn people to not have contact with people inside the Olympics vehicles,  as they are all part of the closed-loop operation. "To ensure a safe closed-loop operation is to be responsible for athletes, as testing positive or becoming sick will affect their performance," said Wang.

Another example of misreading the Games preparation was from Wolfgang Maier, head of Alpine events from the German Ski Federation, who said that he is worried a lack of clarity over COVID-19 testing at the Beijing Winter Olympics "opens the door to manipulation," as a positive PCR test for the virus would immediately remove an athlete from competition.

Maier wants clarity from the Chinese organizers of the Olympics on the CT value of PCR testing, which indicates whether a coronavirus-infected person is contagious.

China considers a CT value higher than 37 as positive for coronavirus, slightly higher than that of Germany. 

Wang explained that every country uses different PCR test kits. "It is not scientific to simply compare the numbers." He also said athletes arriving in Beijing will be tested together with Chinese kits, which is fair for everyone.

"China's goal is to host a spectacular sport fest for the world to see. Why would it try to bar athletes from participating? What good will it do to the games?" Ren Hai, a professor at the Olympic Research Center of Beijing Sports University, told the Global Times. 

According to the second and final version of the Beijing 2022 Playbook, upon their arrival, athletes will take a COVID-19 (PCR) test among others. Within the closed loop, all Games participants will be subjected to daily health monitoring and testing and will be allowed to move between permitted destinations in dedicated transport.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said last week the UN health agency had worked with the International Olympic Committee to provide technical advice on the safe hosting of the Games. "I'm confident that given the information we have, that the measures that are in place for the Games are very strict and very strong and we don't, at this point, see any increased risk of disease transmission in that context."

Wang also dismissed concerns that the safety of the Winter Olympics is threatened. "The outbreaks are under control, thanks to the local government's efforts. Plus, the organizing committee has rolled out multiple plans to guarantee a safe Olympics. There's no need to worry," He said. 

Anyang, in Henan Province, which reported dozens of COVID-19 cases in the past few days, suspended selling train tickets to Beijing on Monday. Tianjin, which is also battling a local transmission, suspended outbound trains and chartered vehicles to Beijing on Tuesday.

Beijing also advised people to stay put during the Spring Festival to avoid spreading the virus. 

Many people will come to China from all over the world as the Games approaches, and the measures to guarantee no outbreak inside the closed-loop is responsible for the athletes so they can perform well at the games. To ensure no infection outside is to protect Chinese people, and Beijing has the ability to avoid bad scenarios, said Wang.

Rumors and flare-ups won't stop Beijing from holding a successful event that offers a valuable chance of bringing the world closer, Ren noted.