Volunteers take a group selfie during their training session at the Wukesong Sports Center on December 30, 2021 (XINHUA)
This winter will be a memorable one for 20-year-old ski aficionado Wan Ailin. After several rounds of interviews, she was selected as a volunteer in the awards ceremony etiquette team for the Olympic and Paralympic team Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Soon, the junior student majoring in broadcasting and hosting in Beijing will enter the Games' closed-loop system and start working at the Wukesong Sports Center, the Olympic ice hockey venue.
"This has been a special experience for me; I feel excited and obligated at the same time. I'm also proud that our country is able to appeal to the world through the Games and I'm honored to witness it in person," Wan told Beijing Review.
A safe bubble
On January 4, the closed-loop system went into trial operation. The special structure has been designed to keep Olympic participants as well as Chinese residents safe by reducing unnecessary interactions, while still allowing partakers to carry on day-to-day activities essential to their role during the Games, according to the Beijing 2022 Playbook released in late 2021, featuring COVID-19 countermeasures.
The loop restricts all Games-related personnel to certain zones in and around the Olympic venues to avoid any physical contact so as to reduce risk of transmission. Overseas participants will fly directly into and out of the bubble.
Inside the loop, all Games participants are subject to daily health monitoring and testing and will be permitted to move between venues, accommodation facilities and other official destinations via the dedicated Games transport system, including high speed rail. This is to ensure there is no contact with anyone from the outside.
According to the organizers, non-fully vaccinated participants will have to undergo a 21-day quarantine upon their arrival in Beijing. All vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization or related international organizations, or approved officially by countries or regions concerned, will be accepted.
Anyone who tests positive during the Olympics will need to go into isolation, according to the Playbook.
Over 2,000 international participants will join the Beijing 2022 test events, and the closed-loop system plays a vital role in protecting their health and safety, said Zhao Weidong, spokesperson of the Beijing Organizing Committee.
The closed loop, covering all Games-related areas, including arrival and departure, transportation, accommodation, catering, competitions, and the opening and closing ceremonies, applies to all three zones located in Beijing's downtown, its northwestern Yanqing District and co-host city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, from January 23, until the end of the Paralympics on March 13.
Large mobile air purifiers will support the Beijing 2022 Games throughout. "The machine can actively capture and eliminate bacteria in the air by releasing hydroxyl free radicals, ensuring that large closed venues have clean air all the time," said Geng Liang, a strategic account manager of Shenzhen Kangfeng Air Purification Technology Co. Ltd., supplier of the product.
The purifiers have already been employed during the 130th China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, in October 2021, the event's first on-site session since the pandemic outbreak. The event wrapped up with more than 600,000 in-person visits, with no new COVID-19 cases reported and zero contamination.
"The Chinese made the right decision to apply restrictions and thanks to that I will feel safe during the competition in Beijing," Polish Ski Association President Apoloniusz Tajner told Xinhua News Agency.
At your service
Technology is a vital part of this year's Olympics, from broadcasting to venue operation and athlete training.
Grinding coffee powder, filling up the water and brewing… A cup of pour-over coffee can be served up within four minutes, courtesy of a robot barista at the Olympic venues.
This robot has two six-axis cooperative arms, mastering a variety of coffee-brewing methods, according to Wei Qing, technical manager at the Wukesong Sports Center, which will host the women's and several of the men's ice hockey events during the Beijing 2022 Games.
"The most important thing is that it comes with excellent stability and can ensure that the quality and taste of each cup of coffee are exactly the same," Wei explained while saying that during the test event, everyone enjoyed the artificial barista's professional services—from venue to media center.
The logistics robot, then, can carry up to 300 kg of goods and carry out contactless distribution at the venues, sending a text message when the delivery has arrived. The intelligent path-finding robot can move freely, avoid obstacles, and automatically recharge itself, while serving its purpose of reducing any direct contact between people.
Robots will also be used for urgent deliveries; for non-urgent deliveries, venues will feature intelligent logistics cabinets. Standing tall at over 2 meters, the cabinet has one side facing the inside of the closed loop and the other side facing out. Recipients will get a text message when their packages are inside the cabinet and can go pick them up whenever they want.
My 2022 is a bilingual mobile service application integrating Games-related information to provide customized services for different user groups to enjoy an all-round Games experience with one app.
All Olympic venues and surroundings have achieved full 5G coverage, as have the high-speed rails. As tickets will only be sold to spectators from the Chinese mainland due to the ongoing pandemic, the 5G signal will allow for high-definition broadcasting on virtual reality devices so that overseas audiences can not only attend events online, but get as close to the physical experience as possible.
In terms of food, aside from wide-ranging Chinese and Western cuisines, the organizing committee has also prepared to serve up a number of traditional festive dishes. For example, spring rolls—a thin sheet of dough, rolled up, stuffed with mashed beans or vegetables, and then fried—will be offered around Spring Festival, on February 1 this year, three days before the opening of the Games. Yuanxiao, sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, will cater to the traditional appetite during the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated two weeks after Spring Festival.
Across the Olympic villages, convenience stores, beauty salons, newsstands, travel agencies, flower shops, printing shops, and dry cleaners have already entered operation, ready to meet the inclusive needs of all Olympic family and other staff members.
Featured stores such as the Traditional Chinese Medicine Experience Center and the Chinese Culture Center are also set to welcome visitors, adding another traditional zest to the highly advanced Olympic mix.
(Print Edition Title: All Systems Go)
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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