(Bloomberg) -- China plans to quarantine athletes competing at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics for 21 days if they have not been vaccinated, according to initial guidelines released Monday.
Exceptions may be granted for athletes and team officials on a case-by-case basis for medical reasons, according to the first version of the “Playbooks” that were released by the Beijing organizing committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. These rules also apply to stakeholders including officials, sponsors and media.
This requirement is more stringent than what was asked of athletes at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo earlier this year. There, participants were “encouraged” to get vaccinated while not required to have been.
China has pursued a zero-tolerance approach to containing Covid that has included steps such as closing its international borders, mass testing and aggressive contract tracing. Still, infections have flared intermittently and increased in frequency since the highly infectious delta variant was first identified in the country in May. With just over three months to go before the opening ceremony, the host city itself has seen a recent flare up in infections.
“Vaccines are proven to reduce infection with and transmission of COVID-19 and are a key tool in enabling activities to be carried out safely,” the Playbooks said. “It will be mandatory to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to departure for China, in order to be allowed in the closed loop system without quarantine.”
Once inside the event, athletes are being asked to report immediately if they have a positive Covid test, at which point they will be isolated at either a designated facility or hospital. They will not be allowed to compete, the Playbooks said, adding the length of the isolation period will be determined by the Chinese health authorities based on the severity of the infection.
Athletes and participants will be subject to daily testing inside the “closed loop” system employed for the Winter Olympics, which will isolated them from the rest of Beijing. A contact tracing app will also be used to monitor the health status of participants.
Similarly to Tokyo, those found to have violated the Covid rules will be subject to penalties including temporary or permanent withdrawal of accreditation, ineligibility or exclusion from the games, disqualification or financial sanctions, according to the Playbooks.
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