Beijing prepares for Winter Olympics as Games village is unveiled - in pictures

Games will be held from February 4-20 even as coronavirus cases surge across the globe

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Beijing Winter Olympics organisers have urged caution amid a surge of coronavirus cases across the world as China's capital city prepares for the 2022 Games.

The Winter Olympics are set to run from February 4-20 and officials unveiled the athletes' village on Friday, with the focus firmly on the Omicron variant affecting many countries.

Games organisers said they expect a "certain number" of Covid-19 cases due to the arrival of outsiders, and urged participants to get their vaccination and booster shots.

"A large number of people from different countries and regions will come to China and the flow of people will increase. Consequently, a certain number of positive cases will become a high probability event," Han Zirong, vice president and secretary-general of the Beijing organising committee, said.

Officials also tried to ease concerns about the safety of participants following an accident last month in a luge training session at the Beijing venue during which a Polish slider suffered a severe leg injury.

The Winter Games organisers said measures to prevent cross-infections between athletes and the outside world are being extended to holding their garbage inside the bubble dividing the two.

A team of special workers will be deployed to collect and transfer garbage inside the bubble to prevent the risk of leaks.

Ma Boyang, who is in charge of Olympic village planning and operations, said the waste will be held at temporary storage sites, to be transferred later for central processing.

Meanwhile, in a big blow to the Olympics, the National Hockey League decided it will not send its players to compete in the men's ice hockey tournament due to the pandemic.

"Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL's regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events - 50 games already have been postponed - Olympic participation is no longer feasible," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

Updated: December 24, 2021, 8:02 AM
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