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Beijing lockdown during Winter Olympic not an option for now, says organizing committee amid surge in Omicron and Delta cases ahead of the games

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games said locking down Beijing during the Winter Olympic Games is not an option for now, adding that the COVID-19 prevention policies will be adjusted if a large-scale outbreak occurs during the closed loop operation of the event. As the Winter Olympics are only three weeks away and China is now facing waves of new COVID-19 outbreaks from both Omicron and Delta variants, Huang Chun, a senior official from the organizing committee said that unless there’s a large, systematic outbreak during the event, there’s no need to adjust the current COVID-19 prevention policies. Yet there is room for flexibility of changing policies, said Huang, noting that at the current stage, locking down Beijing is not an option.

In recent months, Chinese authorities have imposed ever more stringent restrictions to curb local Covid flare-ups as Beijing prepares for the Winter Olympics. An Omicron outbreak in Beijing’s neighboring city Tianjin just weeks before the Games begin on February 4 puts an uphill task before the officials who are now likely to ramp up efforts to protect the capital Beijing and China’s “Zero-COVID” policy. No details are yet out about the fans present in the stadiums.

As per media reports, Beijing has issued notice to its residents “not to travel during upcoming Chinese Year holidays unless absolutely necessary.” This comes amid the worries that Omicron variant has already been spreading in Tianjin for nearly two weeks, at the least. Tianjin authorities moved quickly to place 29 residential communities under strict lockdown, but the virus has already spread far outside the city. As the country battles multiple flare-ups of the highly transmissible delta and omicron variants, China’s central province of Henan has become the latest epicenter after Shaanxi and Tianjin. Anyang is witnessing a surge in Omicron cases travelled from Tianjin while, Yuzhou and Zhengzhou are are battling the Delta variant.

State media said, Tianjin is now fighting a real battle against Omicron after two COVID-19 cases were found with the more contagious variant over the weekend. As per media reports, epidemiological results show the omicron variant has spread to residents in Tianjin mainly via childcare centers, though the original source is still under investigation. According to a state-run news magazine, an “explosive transmission” of the virus may be found in schools as most of the infections in Tianjin are in elementary and middle school students.

All these affected cities are either in full lockdown or partial lockdown even as reports of mismanagement during Xian lockdown came out. In order to prevent further spillover, the railway authority has suspended selling tickets from these cities to Beijing and most of the flights from affected cities to Beijing has been canceled. The locked-down city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province is battling China’s worst outbreak since Wuhan. The delta outbreak has grown to more than 2,000 cases since 9th Dec.

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