IOC Tells Teams 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Will Be Held As Planned

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 5, 2022

The Olympic flame for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is on display on the Flame Exhibition Tour at Shougang Park in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec. 13, 2021. TO GO WITH XINHUA HEADLINES OF JAN. 2, 2022 (Photo by Zhang Chenlin/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Zhang Chenlin/Xinhua via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee said that the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will move forward as planned amid the ongoing COVID-19 surge.

Per the Associated Press' Graham Dunbar (h/t CBC), Switzerland's Olympic Committee "asked for talks" about potentially postponing the Games as case numbers drastically rise worldwide.

The IOC then told the Swiss team as well as other worldwide officials in a videoconference that the Olympics were going to be held as planned.

"The issue of a postponement is no longer relevant to all of us," Swiss team leader Ralph Stockli said in a statement.

The Beijing Games are currently scheduled for Feb. 4-20.

Concerns have been brought up by numerous teams, with Stockli telling French-language state broadcaster RTS the following, per Dunbar:

"We must really discuss the possibility of a postponement of the Games. If we don't have the best athletes there, that's going to be very, very difficult."

Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker spoke with CBC's Scott Russell and said he was "worried" about the Games going forward as currently scheduled:

"We have yet to have a conversation with the IOC about postponement but we're having conversations on a very frequent basis with the participating winter sport nations and it may well come up."

Another Swiss concern has been addressed, however. Per Dunbar, a "panel of international experts" will evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, waiting times to enter China for athletes who test positive for COVID-19 before the Games. The Swiss team said such issues would be handled in a "more flexible manner."

"It's a positive signal," Stockli said, further noting that "we would have had to assume many athletes, no longer presenting any risk of infection, would have been deprived of their dream of participating in the Olympic Games."

As far as precautions being taken in Beijing, Dunbar provided more information:

"Beijing organizers and the IOC are creating a health safety bubble for the Olympics with stricter testing and limits on travel and movement than were enforced at last year's Tokyo Games.
"The rules include a 21-day quarantine for athletes, officials and workers not fully vaccinated, daily testing even for vaccinated people and also keeping local staff within the bubble.
"International fans are again being kept away, though tickets to attend events in stadiums will be sold to people living in China."

The Beijing Games will be the second Olympic Games since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as the Tokyo Summer Olympics were held last summer after a one-year delay.