IOC insists the Beijing Games closed loop system is unlike “any place in the world at this time”

IOC’s Pierre Ducrey and Dr. Pau Mota provide details, updates and impressions from on the ground in Beijing with just over three weeks to go

The area near the the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, where the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be held, is fenced off for the closed-loop area designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China, January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski
The area near the the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, where the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be held, is fenced off for the closed-loop area designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China, January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Having arrived in Beijing one week ago, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Games Operations Director Pierre Ducrey informs that first impressions are “extremely positive” and other personnel within the closed loop system are impressed with the venues and quality of services.

Ducrey and Dr. Pau Mota of the IOC medical and scientific department addressed media on a conference call from Beijing on Wednesday, highlighting and providing details about the closed loop system and other health and safety protocols in place. Ducrey informed that approximately 1,000 Games personnel have already entered the secure closed loop system.

“The loop is very safe – it is a place that is difficult to compare to any place in the world at this point in time because here we have a fully vaccinated, often boosted population, that is being tested daily with the PCR and living in the closed loop,” Ducrey said.

“Basically, it means that no one who is not under the same regime can enter the closed loop – we are wearing masks as you know, so all-in-all if you combine that with the COVID Liasion Officers that every delegation on the ground has to educate, monitor, and recommend the right way of behaving, we are very much in a safe place.”

Ducrey was asked if there was any concern considering ongoing outbreaks of the virus in various prefectures around China.

“It is called the closed loop for that exact reason – it has been built to protect the population inside and the population outside. There can be no contact between the two entities, so there is no concern from this perspective that this could influence the Games,” the IOC operations director said.

A fence surrounds the Olympic Village of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics set up to create a closed loop to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Beijing, China, January 6, 2022.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A fence surrounds the Olympic Village of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics set up to create a closed loop to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Beijing, China, January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Ducrey noted that 41% of all athletes have now qualified for the Games and quotas will be finalized by January 16. He said that the Beijing Olympic village soft opening is set for January 23 and doors will officially open on the 27th.

Ducrey and Mota were queried as to what procedures can be expected, what are facilities like, and what are potential timeframes in isolation should athletes, media or other Games personnel test positive for COVID-19.

“The condition of the isolation facilities are according to a number of requirements, some of them are documented in the playbooks, but they are very much facilities that if you are asymptomatic they will be an isolation facility, depending on the zone, a three or four-star standard hotel with rooms of a certain size and a number of amenities accessible to athletes and others isolated,” Ducrey informed.

“If you are asymptomatic and you want to train, there are gyms and fitness equipment, a certain diversity of meals, WiFi available, and medical staff supervising the people in the facility to ensure that should there be a worsening of the symptoms, they can be transferred to a hospital.”

Staff members make ice at the Capital Indoor Stadium, a venue for Figure Skating and Short Track, inside a closed loop area designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, January 12, 2022. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski
Staff members make ice at the Capital Indoor Stadium, a venue for Figure Skating and Short Track, inside a closed loop area designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, January 12, 2022. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Ducrey said every effort will be taken to limit the amount of time that asymptomatic persons must remain in the isolation facility.

“If you have three consecutive days without symptoms and two consecutive days with a negative test, then you can be released, so it can be rather quick if you can produce the two negative tests,” he said.

Mota informed that a designated expert medical panel will have the decision-making power to intervene in regards to specific cases.

“If there are those that test positive after two weeks, then they can be moved to another place, but it will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

“We didn’t have this problem in Tokyo, and we hope we won’t have this problem here, but we are ready for this case if it happens,” Mota said.

The Beijing Olympic Winter Games open on February 4 with the opening ceremony at China’s National Stadium.

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