For many reasons, the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing seems like the worst time to be having this event, in the worst place possible.
Let’s start with tensions between the U.S. and China. They are palpable, and the U.S. has already said no diplomats or federal government representatives would be there to support the American team.
Then there’s COVID. Numerous Chinese cities have been locked down completely in a desperate attempt to keep the country free of the virus, which seems almost impossible.
There’s additional news that makes the Beijing Games seem like one of the last places you’d want to be. And it might be almost impossible to get there.
Beginning January 19 and continuing for at least two weeks, all flights from the U.S. to China have either been canceled or will almost certainly be suspended because of Chinese aviation regulations as they try to create an impenetrable bubble.
The Olympics start February 4, and the athletes heading there are taking special flights that only take people with Olympic credentials to China.
There’s also a concern that when athletes get to China for the games, they will be under surveillance, and some European countries have warned athletes about taking their personal smartphones on the trip because of cybersecurity concerns.
Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Belgium are considering providing their athletes with “clean” phones to use during their time in China.
Here’s what Matthias Van Baelen, a spokesman for the Belgian Interfederal Lompoc Committee, told local media about their concerns.
“Our conclusion is that there is a need for caution. We’re not banning anything, but we want athletes to be aware of the risks. We prefer to play safe and follow the advice.”
Chinese officials are saying there is no cause for concern.