The 2022 Winter Olympics don’t sound like they’re going to be much fun. Organizers of the Beijing Games, which start Feb. 4, have confirmed plans for a strict COVID-proof bubble, in line with China’s zero-tolerance approach to the pandemic. That means there’ll be no spectators, no family members, and even no outside sponsors allowed at Olympic venues and arenas. Athletes, who must be fully vaccinated two weeks before arrival and face regular testing, will have to remain in a “closed loop” at all times—or face being sent home.
“All participants of the Games and our Chinese staff and volunteers will implement the same policy. They will be strictly separated from the external society,” Beijing Vice Mayor Zhang Jiandong told a press conference 100 days before the Games. “Indeed, epidemic prevention and control is the biggest challenge for us to host the Winter Olympic Games.” The plans constitute a stricter version of the restrictions placed on this year’s Tokyo Summer Games, which broadly kept a cap on infections within the Olympic bubble even as the virus took hold in the wider population.