IOC’s Christophe Dubi feels “butterflies in the belly” concerning homestretch to Beijing 2022 Games

Final test events, injured Polish luger, spectators, human rights issues and Rule 50 all addressed at IOC Webinar with less than 90 days until the Beijing Games open.

A worker takes pictures of the National Stadium or Bird's Nest, the scheduled venue for the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China, November 3, 2021.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A worker takes pictures of the National Stadium or Bird's Nest, the scheduled venue for the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China, November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi conveys a high level of confidence in terms of final preparations in Beijing following last week’s concluding coordination commission meeting, however he also admits there are now “butterflies in the belly”.

Dubi says that Games planning has reached full operational mode and it’s “all in the details.”

“It’s coming extremely close now and this is the time that you cannot leave any stone unturned, you have be incredibly focused and this is what all of us are doing together,” Dubi said, addressing international media on a Zoom Webinar on Tuesday afternoon.

Dubi noted that the first wave of Olympic stakeholders have arrived in China, as flight availabilities and other travel related details still need to be sorted out for delegations, media and other Olympic partners.

“We have a number of our people from Olympic Broadcasting Services on the ground, some media operations on the ground and also some of our partners who are contributing to delivering the operations that are in China,” Dubi informed.

Dubi also advised that there will only be slightly more than 20,000 accredited individuals in Beijing, smaller than at any previous Games.

IOC response about injured Polish luge athlete

Polish Luger Mateusz Sochowicz competes in Germany (Sochowicz)
Polish Luger Mateusz Sochowicz competes in Germany (Sochowicz)

IOC coordination chair Juan Antonio Samaranch responded to an Around the Rings question regarding if the IOC is investigating a training run accident and subsequent injuries suffered by Polish luger Mateusz Sochowicz. Polish team officials are claiming negligence on the part of Chinese track officials at the new sliding venue in Yanqing.

“We have expressed all of our sympathy and support for the athlete in this unfortunate situation, and together with FIL, the International Luge Federation, the organizing committee and the Polish Olympic Committee, we are discussing how we can be as supportive as possible,” Samaranch said.

“The circumstances under which this accident happened are being investigated by both the federation and the organizing committee very seriously, and if there are lessons to be learned, there is plenty of time to implement them.

“The course that has been used by both federations (FIL & IBSF) that have used it over recent weeks, has gotten extraordinary good marks for its safety and quality, but we have to see how the investigation goes ahead.”

Dubi noted test events are continuing at Beijing venues, five of which were utilized during the 2008 Games, having been converted for winter sports competition. Dubi advised that 15 test events have recently been completed, with six more scheduled in November and December.

Spectators at Beijing events

Ice Hockey - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Test Event - Domestic Ice Hockey event - Wukesong Sports Centre, Beijing, China - November 8, 2021 Athletes from China Ice Sport College and Capital University of Physical Education and Sports in action  REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
Ice Hockey - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Test Event - Domestic Ice Hockey event - Wukesong Sports Centre, Beijing, China - November 8, 2021 Athletes from China Ice Sport College and Capital University of Physical Education and Sports in action REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Both IOC leaders informed that residents of mainland China will be permitted to attend events, although Beijing 2022 organizers have yet to finalize the capacities which will be allowed.

“We are working with Beijing in this changing world of COVID situation to finalize the plans for spectators – how many tickets can be sold, all of them in mainland China,” Samaranch said.

“The presence of public will be a tremendous boost to these Games and the athletes taking part,” he said, adding that non-Chinese citizens residing in China will be permitted, to hopefully add some color and flags to the events.

Human Rights and “Rule 50″

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, activists wearing masks of IOC President Thomas Bach, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose in front of the Olympic Rings during a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, activists wearing masks of IOC President Thomas Bach, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose in front of the Olympic Rings during a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)

Unsurprisingly, a barrage of questions arose in regards to the political climate and human rights issues in China, including if the Beijing Organizing Committee has consulted the IOC in terms of the best means to handle and address questions from international media.

“We are the partners of the organizing committee – we are not discussing anything with the Chinese government,” Samaranch informed.

“We have to make sure that human rights and so many things in our world, which is related to the Olympic Games, is fully respected.

“At this point in time we have lots of discussions about everything, including issues related to human rights with the organizing committee, because it is our obligation.

“We have to deliver Olympic Games that our fully compliant with the Olympic rights, the Olympic Charter and the Host City Contract,” said the longtime Spanish IOC member.

“To the best of our knowledge, we are confident that they are delivering on all their obligations under these circumstances.”

Dubi responded about how the IOC will handle the enforcement of Rule 50, as it seems quite conceivable that athletes might partake in protests over China’s human rights issues.

“Rule 50 is a rule of the Olympic Charter and anything related to the Charter or the Host City Contract, the governance is really clear - the IOC has the final say in respect to these rules, including to sanction or inform as we’ve done in the past, including in Tokyo,” said the IOC director general.

(L to R) Vice Mayor of Beijing Zhang Jiandong, Minister of the General Administration of Sport of China and Chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee Liu Peng, Mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun, IOC head of Olympic bid city coordination Jacqueline Barrett and IOC Sports Director Christophe Dubi pose with the bid files on January 6, 2015 at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne. Beijing leaders handed over their official bid to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics to the International Olympic Committee. The event is guaranteed to go to an Asian host as the only other candidate is the Kazakhstan city of Almaty which will hand over its bid at the Olympic headquarters later on Today.  AFP PHOTO / POOL / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
(L to R) Vice Mayor of Beijing Zhang Jiandong, Minister of the General Administration of Sport of China and Chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee Liu Peng, Mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun, IOC head of Olympic bid city coordination Jacqueline Barrett and IOC Sports Director Christophe Dubi pose with the bid files on January 6, 2015 at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne. Beijing leaders handed over their official bid to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics to the International Olympic Committee. The event is guaranteed to go to an Asian host as the only other candidate is the Kazakhstan city of Almaty which will hand over its bid at the Olympic headquarters later on Today. AFP PHOTO / POOL / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite the mounting pressure being applied on China from numerous human rights groups, worldwide media and international authorities, Dubi insists these Winter Games will ultimately be a worldwide celebration of humanity.

“This is why we organize the Games – this is a celebration of humanity, this is why everyone is gathering in Beijing and will be living together in the Olympic Village and competing together,” Dubi said.

“We are about building bridges, we are about extending the hand across the table and I think this is what the world needs at present – everybody is welcome in Beijing in February.”

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