What Chinese Winter Olympics Tourism Is Like

China doesn’t seem likely to re-open air travel this year even though the year has 11 months left. They’ve pursued a Zero Covid strategy. There’s very little immunity in the Chinese population, and locally-grown vaccines don’t work very well. They still hasn’t approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine even though it’s being produced locally by Fosun Pharmaceuticals in Shanghai and being distributing to China’s Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

The country’s conservative stance seems likely to last at least through the Party Congress late in the year, where President Xi Jinping is expected to receive an unprecedented third term. Re-opening before that, with Covid-19 spreading, represents a risk to his re-election. While the virus originated in China, President Xi has staked his capital on a hard crackdown to protect the country from its effects.

Olympians Won’t See Tiananmen Square

Nonetheless, China is hosting the Winter Olympics, which brings foreigners into the country – and thus risk of importing the virus. China isn’t taking that threat likely.

For the thousands of athletes, journalists and others descending on Beijing for the Winter Olympics, China’s strict pandemic measures are creating a surreal and at times anxious experience.

China is isolating everyone coming from abroad from any contact with the general public for the duration of the Games, which open next week. That means being taken from the Beijing airport in special vehicles to a hotel surrounded by temporary barricades that keep participants in and the public out.

“I know the only experience of Beijing I’m going to experience is the Beijing I will see out of my bus window and my hotel window,” said Associated Press photo editor Yirmiyan Arthur, who arrived this week. “I’m not really going to experience China, I’m just going to experience the Olympics within the bubble.”

Chinese Covid Troops At Wuhan Airport

China is afraid of foreigners, but they also wouldn’t give up the international prestige of hosting the Olympics – even an Olympics that barely showcases the country.

(HT: Alex Tabarrok)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. China today has regressed from the China of 10+ years ago. Instead of opening more they’re shutting the doors. You couldn’t pay me to go there for any reason and that’s coming from someone who spent more than 25 years doing business there!

  2. In naming variants of the virus the WHO skipped two letters of the Greek alphabet. One was the 13th letter, “nu”, which sort of makes sense as they were afraid that people would think it was a “new” type of virus.

    The fourteenth letter was the other. one The is…wait for it…”xi”.

    They said it was hard to pronounce.


  3. I’m sure the Special Administrative Regions big shots are all getting jabbed with the western “good stuff.”

    Hey, cut Gary some slack on the proofreading. He’s got 3 jobs and small children. You don’t like it, demand your money back!

  4. Even for this blog, the number of grammar mistakes in this particular post is higher than average.

    I suppose the positive is we can be certain that these aren’t AI posts, aside from the recycled ones. Keeps me coming back, I just wish I could go over everything with a red pen!

  5. I’ve never been less interested in an Olympics. I hope and expect the TV ratings will tank and the IOC learns its lesson about putting the games in totalitarian countries. The excitement level is zero for the Covid/Propaganda Games. Glad the NHL pulled out.

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