Sports games

Bubble life: China takes COVID sports routine to new extreme

Officially, the Beijing Olympics are taking place inside what organizers call “the closed activity zone.” It’s a fancy way of saying “a closed loop”. You probably know it better as “the bubble”. And bubbles are now part of the norm at major sporting events.

The premise of this bubble is simple: keep those who have passed multiple tests just to gain access to the Olympics, keep the rest of the world – and hopefully COVID-19 – out. He has worked for the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Grand Slam tennis events, college sports, the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics that took place last summer and more. again.

Everyone inside the bubble is, in theory, virus-free when they enter and believe they have a chance of staying that way if strict rules are followed. For a few, it didn’t go as planned. Their Olympics ended before they could start after testing positive. For the most part this works.

And for everyone else, it’s discouraging.

“Everyone’s road to Beijing has been anything but ordinary,” said American speed skater Brittany Bowe.

The road after arriving in Beijing is also anything but ordinary.

Venues are open to members of the Olympic family, while the rest of Beijing is virtually closed. The Forbidden City is, well, forbidden. The Great Wall is sometimes seen but cannot be climbed. The arrivals section of the usually bustling Beijing International Airport was a ghost town, with no for those wearing full protective gear tasked with administering coronavirus tests and directing visitors to the appropriate bus.

The Olympic hotels are surrounded by fences; the police and guards are the only ones to open and close the barriers for buses and other authorized vehicles. When the media centers at each site close for the day, surfaces are sprayed with disinfectant and tested for the presence of viruses.

There’s no walking around town, no shopping expeditions, no visits to local restaurants. And in case anyone forgets where it is and what the rules are, there are massive signs at almost every exit imaginable: “Please stay in the closed activity area.” “It’s the Olympics without friends or family, which is the hardest part,” said USA Luge slider Emily Sweeney. “I was talking with one of the Latvians and I was like, ‘We’re going a bit crazy in our heads because of COVID’, but we both agreed it’s so important right now. I can breathe afterwards. It’s a bubble…but the term ‘bubble’ and the fact that we’re still being tested keeps me on my toes.” An Italian luge athlete, Kevin Fischnaller, tested positive two days before competing in the Olympics and was retired from the village; his cousin, Dominik Fischnaller, won a bronze medal. American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor missed an unofficial practice last week – and a chance to carry the American flag in the opening ceremony – because that she was in isolation following a positive test result; she is now authorized and plans to be able to participate in her two events. “I’m always afraid to take off my mask,” said American curler Vicky Persinger. “I have fear rooted in me for several months now. . But everything is so safe here. They did a great job with all the tests.” Ah, the tests.

It’s a daily requirement – sometimes more. Some members of the Olympic family were told on Sunday that if they had recently visited any of the alpine skiing venues they would need a second PCR test that day instead of just one. The bubble, despite the best efforts of almost everyone, is not airtight.

Two-time Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Kruger of Norway, one of the best cross-country skiers in the world, was unable to defend his title in the 30-kilometre skiathlon earlier this week. He tested positive even before coming to China, meaning he couldn’t even get into the bubble.

“The games should be the pinnacle of sport, and you should have all the best athletes here in their best shape,” said British skier Andrew Musgrave. “If you become an Olympic champion, you want it to be because you’re a worthy champion, not because your competitors aren’t there.” Most Olympians won’t stay more than a few weeks in the bubble. They won’t even come close to a Bubbles longevity record.

When the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat qualified for the 2020 NBA Finals during that league’s restart bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, they both spent more than 90 days apart from the outside world. No fans, no family, just FaceTime and multiple Amazon deliveries a day (some players bought everything from furniture to wine fridges for their time in the NBA bubble, with most of those purchases left behind).

Much like that bubble, masks and testing were the rule inside the NBA bubble. But that Olympic bubble has taken safety to a higher level than even the NBA, especially given China’s zero-tolerance policy for positive tests.

“Very challenging and challenging,” Lakers star LeBron James said of his time in the bubble. “It’s played with your mind. It’s played with your body. You’re away from some of the things you’re so used to, to make you the professional you are.” He persevered and held a gold trophy aloft at the end of his time in the bubble.

Here, those who do the best will hoist gold medals.

“It’s a really tough thing that we choose to do,” Sweeney said. “I would say go to Beijing and get a little taste of the culture, but not really be able to experience it, it’s just sad. It’s sad to know that we are having an Olympics in a place that could be really cool to see a completely different culture…and we can’t see it.

“But is it worth it? Absoutely.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)