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Initially planned as something grandiose, the Beijing Winter Olympics should go unnoticed by most of the city’s inhabitants.
Unlike the Summer Games in Tokyo, held in 2021, China decided to allow the public to attend the competitions. Tickets, however, were not on sale.
The Organizing Committee distributed entries only to “selected persons”, most of them connected with state officials, government officials and sponsors. All of them will undergo Covid tests and health monitoring after the event.
To ensure that the ceremony is Covid-free, the country decided to place athletes, journalists and official Olympic delegations on the so-called “closed circuit”, isolated in facilities built especially for the event.
Several points in Beijing are inaccessible, and residents have been ordered not to approach hotels and used cars to accommodate the so-called “Olympic family”.
At least more than 400,000 PCR tests have been performed to date.
All residents working at the event will need to comply with mandatory 14-day quarantine in a closed hotel, in addition to 7 days of observation at home. In the meantime, they will undergo frequent testing, as will those who arrive in the country from abroad.
Contrary to the majestic scenes seen at the opening of the Summer Games, in 2008 the organizers decided to hold a shorter and more measured presentation.
Conceived by Zhang Yimou, who led the ceremony in 2008, the opening held on Friday (4) invited 3,000 volunteers. 14 years ago, there were 15,000 at the Beijing Games ceremony.
Zhang gave statements to the local press on the topic, saying that he sought an artistic concept more “in line with the state of the world today”.
why it matters: once a source of pride given the novelty for a city to host both summer and winter competitions, the Olympics turned out to be a logistical headache for Beijing.
Health concerns over the entry of so many foreigners into China have prompted the government to take extra precautions to protect the population. The country now hopes to impress the world as it did in 2008, this time focusing on success in fighting the new coronavirus.
what also matters
The Correspondents Club of China released its annual report on working conditions for foreign journalists in the country. The document is produced through interviews and surveys carried out with the 192 members of the organization.
According to the survey, foreign journalists face “unprecedented challenges in covering China due to government lockdowns and discrediting independent media.”
The text mentions that many reporters have had to leave the country recently due to online harassment;
52% said they had to stop coverage because they were blocked from accessing a facility due to Covid or security concerns.
Fudan University in Shanghai announced that it has managed to develop a new type of antibody capable of neutralizing the umicron and other future variants of Covid.
The research is led by Professor Huang Jinghe, who said he performed the feat by chance while synthesizing a compound from human immune cells. Under natural conditions, the antibodies from these cells would be useless to fight Covid, but when combined they are able to break the virus’s line of defense.
The article reporting the discovery was published on a pre-print basis (when it has not yet been reviewed by other scientists). If the effectiveness is confirmed, the compound would represent “a step forward in the race against Covid”, according to the team led by Huang.
Beijing has tightened rules on access to the city for those coming from other regions of the country. The measures come as the city tries to control the recent outbreak of Covid while dealing with the organization of the Olympics.
Some bus lines have been suspended.
The city’s international airport said it only authorizes the entry of passengers after taking a temperature and checking the health code.
Beijing residents of areas considered to be medium and high risk are required to show a negative Covid test taken 48 hours before departure.
Those who live in other provinces were also advised against traveling to the capital, except for emergency situations.
The city announced mass testing for regions with many cases. The number of people taking the exams was so high that the app that shows the health status of residents was even down.
Beijing currently records 109 active Covid cases.
keep an eye
China has announced a billion-dollar deal to build a large nuclear power plant in Argentina. Negotiated since 2015, the Atucha III plant will cost more than BRL 34 billion and will have Chinese technology. The announcement precedes the visit of Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, who arrives in Beijing this weekend.
why it matters: Brazil is the main destination for Chinese investments in the energy area, but with the new agreement, Argentina is emerging as an option for companies interested in the Latin American market. The project will be only the Chinese company’s second abroad (the first was in Pakistan), and its success could open doors for Beijing in other countries with energy demand.
to go deep
- China International Radio began publishing the series “Chinese Ideas”, with audio mini-courses on works and authors from the pre-Qin dynasty era. The project is a partnership between the University of Macau and the Brazilian professor Giorgio Sinedino. (free, in Portuguese)
- The South China Morning Post brings together sinologists and foreign observers to try to understand what China wants to show the world with this year’s Olympics. (porous paywall, in English)
- Sixth Tone revives the Chinese tradition of ice skating and recounts how the sport is linked to the country’s history and disputes with foreign powers in the last century. (free, in English)