On Sunday, January 30th, the organizing committee of the Beijing Olympics confirmed 34 new instances of COVID-19 among athletes and team officials involved in the Games.
Thirteen individuals tested positive after landing at the airport on Saturday, January 29th.
Of the total infections, 23 occurred among new arrivals at the airport. In contrast, 11 happened in a “closed-loop” bubble that separated event employees from the general public to keep the infection from spreading.
As Reuters reported, for the first time since China began disclosing daily statistics of coronavirus infections related to the Olympics on January 23rd, athletes’ and team officials’ cases outnumbered “other stakeholders” such as the media, sponsors, and employees.
The Games’ medical director, Brian McCloskey, stated: “We are now just going through the peak period of people arriving in China, and therefore we expect to see the highest numbers at this stage.”
The authorities permit Olympic athletes to travel freely on official transportation between their accommodations and the Games venue, but not within the city. Regularly, all Games stakeholders are examined, including the media and personnel.
According to Beijing Olympics organizers, more cases are expected in the following days.
Russian hockey player Anton Slepyshev said, “It’s annoying that every morning you need to get up a little earlier, specially to get a PCR test. But, I think that in a few days, it will be like brushing your teeth.”
He added, “Everyone is concerned that the test result will suddenly turn out to be positive. But the reality is such that we are living with COVID. We accept all the risks and fears.”
China has isolated itself with a zero-tolerance approach and stopped practically all international flights, unlike many other countries seeking to live with COVID-19. As a result, athletes and others must use private flights to get to Beijing.