Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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It’s Covid-19 Against Chinese New Year And Beijing’s Winter Olympics Plans

While China prepares itself for Beijing Winter Olympic Games 2022, the Covid-19 spread mounts a challenge, especially with the onset of the Chinese New Year.

Covid-19 spread poses a major threat to Beijing Winter Olympic Games
Covid-19 spread poses a major threat to Beijing Winter Olympic Games AP Photos Collage

The threat of Covid-19 is mounting in China as it prepares for the much-awaited Beijing Olympics and the widely celebrated Lunar New Year. More than a billion people will observe the Lunar New Year, on 1st February, feasting and praying for a prosperous future. Within China and from all around the world, people of Chinese origin take time off and travel to their hometowns and celebrate one of their most important festivals with friends and family.

However, this year, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are hitting China hard. With Winter Olympics lined up, China is trying hard to contain the spread of the Coronavirus by imposing travel restrictions, urging people to stay inside their homes and mass testing.

Just around the time of the Tokyo Olympics, the Covid-19 cases in Japan started rising. But China is facing a worse situation with the more contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus wreaking havoc in the country. Managing the dynamics between people commuting during the Chinese New Year and controlling the pandemic for the smooth conduct of the Beijing Olympics is going to be a big challenge for China.

What is the Chinese Lunar New Year and how it can hurt China’s coronavirus response?

The Chinese New Year’s celebrations will begin on 1st February 2022 and will continue for 15 days. The Chinese wish for prosperity and luck while celebrating this festival. Also known as the spring festival, the Lunar New Year sees people of Chinese origin from all around the world, travelling back to their country and the people within the country travelling to their hometowns.

Not just inside China but communities in East and Southeast Asia, like Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, etc. with sizeable numbers of people with Chinese descent celebrate the Lunar New Year at their own places.

Events like feasts, bursting firecrackers, and watching dancing dragons during the new year celebrations can prove out to be the gatherings with high risk from the coronavirus.

Back in December 2021, many Chinese cities had the cancelled January 1 New Year's Eve events to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Northwest Xi'an also went into lockdown. Other major cities including Wuhan in central China, Nanjing in East China, and Guiyang in Southwest China asked the citizens to celebrate the New Year from home and reminded residents to take steps to ensure public health and safety, Global Times reported.

Last year, people were encouraged to stay in Beijing by the city’s government and asked not to go back to their hometowns for Lunar New Year’s celebrations.

Potential threats to Beijing Olympics due to Covid-19

The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will begin on February 4. Various sporting events will go on until March 13, when the paralympics will end.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that the Winter Olympics would be open only to domestic tourists, not international ones. The IOC also stated that only fully vaccinated athletes will be able to skip the 21-day quarantine, a provision with which, even diplomats are not exempt.

The Chinese capital is tightening controls to contain Covid-19 spread ahead of the high-profile sporting event.

Xu Hejian, spokesperson from the Beijing government, emphasized that the Beijing government encourages companies to adopt flexible work hours and assist employees to avoid leaving or entering Beijing during peak periods. He also encouraged people to stay in Beijing for the upcoming fays to control the spread of Covid-19.

With a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach against the coronavirus, Beijing has put a condition for the people returning there to present negative nucleic acid testing result issued within 48 hours and a green health code.

China’s attempts to contain the Covid-19 spread in Beijing have been approached in a hardline manner.

Over two million residents in Beijing's Fengtai were ordered last week to not to go out of the district and avoid get-togethers after a residential compound was classified high-risk. The district also launched a mass nucleic acid testing drive for all its residents with medial workers from surrounding 10 districts sent there.

Also Read: China's Modus Operandi To Prevent Covid-19 From Hampering Beijing Olympics

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