Summary: A Month Ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics

The Beijing Winter Olympics is just a month away. Despite pandemic concerns and criticisms of China’s human rights record, Beijing says the Games will follow the schedule, from Feb. 4 to 20.

The United States was the first to announce a diplomatic boycott in early December. It says its government officials would not attend the Games because of Beijing’s atrocities in the Xinjiang region. But athletes are still going.

Other democracies including the UK, Canada, and Australia soon joined the United States. Among European Union states, so far only Lithuania has announced a diplomatic boycott, and two German ministers have said they personally wouldn’t go to Beijing.

Meanwhile, China is busy preparing for the games right now. On Monday, Olympic staff rehearsed a medal ceremony at the Medals Plaza in Beijing.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in September that the tickets will be sold only to spectators from China, and unvaccinated athletes must quarantine for 21 days before the Games.

A safety measure Beijing is taking is called the “closed-loop management system.” According to the IOC’s explanation, fully vaccinated athletes would enter the system immediately upon arrival.

The system covers all Games-related areas, including stadiums, catering facilities, and accommodations. Participants and staff are restricted to these places, while other people are banned from entering them. It’s to prevent any contact between people inside and outside the system.

Everyone in the system will be tested daily.

The air quality in Beijing is another concern. The city is very prone to smog. Communist leader Xi Jinping has vowed to run a green Olympics. But China’s ministry of ecology and environment is still warning about the risks of severe smog.