With the recent global situation changing events of the world, leading up to the Winter Olympics, there was genuine concern about whether the Games would have to be called off.
The prospect of athletes traveling from different countries, the threat of infection, and variants presented a considerable challenge for organizers. Even on the eve of the opening ceremony, there were whispers that the Olympics wouldn’t be going ahead.
However, the Beijing organizers proved their critics wrong with a memorable Winter Olympics, which wasn’t just thrilling to watch but also prevented the predicted catastrophe.
Just one month before the Games were due to be held, the number of cases of the virus worldwide reached a peak of 1.44 million. There were fears that China would be unable to stage the Winter Olympics while still keeping everyone safe.
However, with stringent measures in place that were enforced rigidly from the moment the athletes and their teams arrived, China proved that it was possible to contain any potential spread.
Around 180 athletes tested positive on arrival in China, immediately putting them out of contention for the Games. All athletes and their coaches and staff had been asked to test before traveling, but they were tested again upon landing.
This was just the start of a series of measures that went above and beyond the recommended to prevent the Games from being canceled.
The way this was managed was by creating a giant “bubble” around the athletes and their teams, effectively sealing them in together and stopping contact with the rest of the city. Despite the event being held in Beijing, athletes were not free to wander around the city or the rest of China as they would have been two years prior.
Tough rules on socializing and travel prevented any risk of contamination, and kept the athletes protected in their bubble. The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, later said that the infection rate was just 0.01%, making it “one of the safest places on the planet”.
In order to create this sterile environment for the athletes, local volunteers had to agree to stay away from their family and friends for up to two months, isolating them within the bubble. This meant that they would have missed the Lunar New Year, the biggest event on the Chinese calendar.
Even after the Olympics was over, the helpers were not able to return home, having to complete a further strict 21-day quarantine to ensure infection didn’t spread into the wider community.
All of these guidelines meant that athletes and viewers around the world were able to focus on the sporting events, and the Winter Olympics results. And the sporting performances were spectacular, with each event producing thrilling competition.
From the drama of the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton to the snowboarding, skiing, curling, and more, it’s believed that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will have been the most-watched in the whole history of the Games.