- There have been 72 COVID-19 cases so far among staff at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
- Brian McCloskey, the top medical expert for the Games, said this number is to be expected.
- None of the athletes or team officials who arrived in China so far have tested positive.
Organizers of the Beijing 2022 Olympics have confirmed 72 COVID-19 cases among the 2,586 personnel for the Games brought into China this month, a number that its top medical expert said was to be expected.
None of the 171 athletes and team officials who have arrived in China so far tested positive, the Olympic Committee said in a statement.
The Games are to be held using a “closed loop” system that puts Games-related personnel and competing teams in a bubble secluded from the rest of Beijing.
Brian McCloskey, chair of the Beijing 2022 Olympics medical expert panel, said at an online media briefing that the 72 cases detected so far are comparable to infections at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics — which International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach called a success.
“We have always said the target is not zero cases. The target is zero spread. Already at the Tokyo Games we knew there would be some people who would come through, and they would test positive after they arrived,” said McCloskey.
He said the number of cases in the “closed loop” is likely to rise, and the challenge for organizers would be to detect cases quickly and make sure they don’t start spreading.
Everyone staying in the Olympic bubble is tested for COVID before their departure to China and at the airport and will undergo daily PCR testing while staying in Beijing.
Olympics organizers didn’t say if any of the 72 cases were of the Omicron variant. “We do know that Omicron is more infectious,” said McCloskey. “But we also know that all the standard public health measures that we have all used over the last two years in the pandemic, they all work for Omicron as they did for previous variants.”
The Games kick off on February 4.