Many athletes arriving in China for the Winter Olympics in Beijing are criticising the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
After testing positive, some were put in isolation for weeks, while others complained about the tasteless food offered in quarantine, according to CNN. The measures, according to one Finnish coach, are a breach of human rights. However, for China’s 1.4 billion people, the conditions inside the Olympic bubble are a microcosm of the country’s situation during the pandemic.
Athletes from countries where the usefulness of face masks is still debatable, such as the United States, are now subjected to daily Covid testing inside the “closed-loop” that isolates Olympic athletes from the rest of the capital.
“My heart and my mind can’t take this anymore,” tweeted Polish short track speed skater Natalia Maliszewska, who was placed into isolation and missed her first competitive event.
More than 160 athletes and team officials have tested positive for Covid and have been kept in isolation, with several being forced to miss contests — a heartbreaking blow to individuals who have spent years practising for this moment.
China is one of the few countries still using a strict zero-Covid policy, in which snap lockdowns, mass testing, contact tracing, and severe border restrictions are used to eradicate all signs of the disease. New variations and more frequent breakouts have prompted concerns about the strategy’s long-term viability.