COVID-19 brakes on Beijing sports events

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China Beijing Olympics update June 2020 Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

All sports events in Beijing were halted recently following new COVID-19 cases surfacing in the city.

A public notice issued by Beijing’s Municipal Sports Competitions Administration Centre stated, “Due to changes in the situation of epidemic prevention and control in Beijing, all kinds of sports events will be suspended in the city from now on to reduce the risks brought by people’s mobility and gathering, and ensure the health and safety of the people.”

Media reports stated that new COVID-19 cases emerging have been linked to a major wholesale food market serving the city. Tourism in the city has been halted and 11 residential estates locked down.

The affected sports events are – Chinese Super League team Beijing Guoan cancelling planned friendly matches against Hebei China Fortune and Shandong Luneng. After a month-long training camp in neighboring Hebei province, Beijing Guoan returned to the capital on June 8. The team’s head coach Bruno Genesio remains stranded in Europe due to travel restrictions, and has been using video conferencing to communicate with players and staff.

No announcement has been made as yet as to a new start date for the 2020 Chinese Super League season, and it is doubtful whether it will take place this year.

The Chinese Super League is the highest tier of professional football in China, operating under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association.

Pat on the back

China has been lauded for its preparation efforts for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC’s) Coordination Commission despite the coronavirus scenario.

The remarks were made at the fifth meeting of the Coordination Commission, which was held online and featured updates on the preparations.

The top functionaries of Beijing 2022 Organising Committee, international federations and World Para Sport representatives participated in the online meeting.

The Coordination Commission Chair, Juan Antonio Samaranch, stated, “China has faced an incredibly difficult period over the past few months. Our thoughts are with all those impacted. Despite these unique circumstances, Beijing 2022 have continued to meet key milestones, a true testament to their determination to provide the perfect stage for the world’s top winter athletes in just less than two years’ time.”

One of the topics of discussion during the online meeting was the status of venues. Commission members were impressed to hear about the developments being made on the Olympic and Paralympic Villages as it was confirmed that a section of the Yanqing Village is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

They also welcomed the news that the ‘Ice Jar’, the first indoor training venue in the Beijing competition zone, was completed on May 27. This facility enjoys two international standard ice rinks, one for short track speed skating, which will be used as a training venue during the Games, and another for curling.

Beijing Vice-Mayor and Executive Vice-President of the Organising Committee, Zhang Jiandong, remarked, “Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been delivering a continuous effort without lowering standards.”

IOC President Thomas Bach had previously stated that Beijing 2022 might even benefit from Tokyo Olympics being rescheduled to next year. Bach said running the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics so close to each other could enhance the profile of the events. Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021. Beijing Winter Olympics is set for February 4-20, 2022.

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