Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

A member of the media is administered a PCR test at a hotel inside a closed loop area designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China.

BEIJING — Beijing Olympics organizers said on Thursday that zero new COVID-19 cases were detected among athletes and team officials on Feb. 16, the first time no symptomatic infection was found since a daily count was published.

No new cases were also found among non-Games related personnel on Feb. 16 in the closed-loop Olympics bubble and on arrival at the airport in Beijing, the organizing committee said in a statement.

To minimize COVID transmission risks, Beijing 2022 has imposed a "closed loop" system that restricts all Games participants to certain zones in and around venues and accommodation, creating a bubble that separates them from the local population.

Beijing 2022 started publishing a daily count of cases with confirmed clinical symptoms on Jan. 24. Prior to that, organizers said 72 infections were detected on Jan. 4-22 among Games-related personnel arriving in China and within the closed-loop.

The Winter Olympics, which kicked off on Feb. 4, are to close on Sunday. The Paralympics in Beijing are due to start on March 4, ending on March 13.

"Some people are coming to prepare for the Paralympics these days while several hundreds people are leaving," said Huang Chun, deputy director general at the office of pandemic prevention and control at Beijing 2022.

"Our rough data shows there are nearly 14,000 people who came from overseas are still in the bubble."

Overseas analysts have warned that the Winter Games would put further pressure on China's so-called "zero-COVID" stance, especially as local authorities throughout the country battled the new and more infectious Omicron strain.

"The daily COVID cases are falling, thanks to everyone strictly following the COVID prevention measures," Huang said.

"It also proves the closed-loop and COVID-19 control measures are effective," Huang added.

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