The first Olympic Games of the COVID era has now concluded—and with the next one less than six months away, organizers in Beijing plan to bring in much tighter controls than Tokyo did. Beijing is restructuring venues so that athletes, referees, journalists, and spectators have as little contact with each other as possible, the New York Times reports. Sources tell the Times that China plans to enforce "bubble" restrictions more strictly than Japan did, with Chinese workers required to live in the bubble and then spend weeks in quarantine after the 2022 Games conclude. All foreigners arriving in China are currently required to spend two or three weeks in quarantine, but Beijing organizers haven't announced a decision yet on quarantine or vaccination requirements for participants—or whether foreign spectators will be allowed.
The changes Beijing organizers have confirmed include plastic walls to separate athletes from the journalists interviewing them, the Times reports. Public health expert Kenji Shibuya, a prominent critics of the flaws in Tokyo's bubble system, tells the CBC that the summer Games will provide Beijing with valuable data on factors including the spread of COVID at Olympic housing facilities. Chinese officials have said the Beijing Olympics, which begin Feb. 4, will be "simpler and more streamlined," with fewer than 30,000 foreigners allowed into the country, compared to more than 42,000 for the Tokyo Games. Around 400 infections were reported in the Tokyo Olympic bubble—but unlike Japan, which focused on trying to prevent athletes being infected, China is pursuing a "zero COVID" strategy and is seeking to stop infections spreading outward from the Games, CNN reports. (Read more 2022 Beijing Olympics stories.)