For journalists covering the Beijing Winter Olympics, China’s strict pandemic control measures create a surreal and somewhat frustrating experience. China requires electronic confirmation of the health status of those attending or covering the Games and sends them into a closed-loop bubble upon arrival. It kept Associated Press photo editor Yirmiyan Arthur spellbound as she traveled from New Delhi to Beijing via Tokyo on Tuesday. A colleague helped her download the app in Beijing, but the presence of health workers in biohazard suits reminded her that the restrictions would keep her inside the bubble forcing competitors, officials, staff and journalists to remain isolated from the general public. “I know that the only experience of Beijing I’m going to have is the one I’ll see through my bus window and my hotel window,” Arthur said. “I’m not really going to experience China, I’m just going to experience the Olympics in the bubble.” AP video reporter Johnson Lai faces more stress because China has no formal relations with his self-governing homeland of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory. The lack of login meant he was unable to complete the form in the Olympics app to get a code, which requires a test at a Chinese-approved hospital. “There are a lot of uncertain matters that we cannot control. We can only apply based on their procedures,” said Lai, who forgoes celebrating Chinese New Year with her family to cover the Games.
So far, organizers say there have been 39 positive results from more than 2,500 tests at the airport among those who have arrived for the Games since early January. In the bubble, there were 33 positives out of 336,400 tests. None of the positives involved athletes. The average time spent in solitary confinement for most was around six days.
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