Coronavirus Spiked, Then Sputtered, at the Winter Olympics


As athletes, journalists and others prepared to travel to Beijing amid the Omicron surge, and China carried out sweeping lockdowns to keep the highly contagious coronavirus variant from spreading, the world held its breath to see if the virus would plunge the Winter Games into chaos.

Cases spiked at the beginning of the Games as many of those heading to Beijing tested positive even before arriving. But cases never soared within the closed environment known as the Olympic bubble, as had been feared, and they have since dropped off. Case numbers topped off on Feb. 2, with just over 50 reported that day within the bubble, the restricted areas in which the Games are taking place. As the Olympics move into the second week of competition, only a handful of cases have been reported in the last few days.

At least 498 people with Olympic credentials, including 180 athletes and team officials, have tested positive for the coronavirus in China. Athletes and visitors face severe restrictions on their movement in the “closed loop,” a bubblelike environment in which athletes, officials, broadcasters, journalists and a large work force have to eat, sleep, work and compete. They are not allowed to leave, from the day they arrive for the Games to the moment they depart. More than 60,000 Covid tests are administered each day.

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