With less than two weeks to go until the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the Chinese government said it is battling “extremely unfavorable” weather to clear the city’s skies of hazardous smog.
On Sunday, Beijing residents’ air pollution apps turned purple, the color indicating a “very unhealthy” level of tiny particulate matter. Forecasts for the next seven days suggest a midweek improvement then another deterioration ahead of Jan. 31, Lunar New Year’s Eve, when authorities may have to contend with celebratory fireworks releasing plumes of smoke into the skies.
On Monday, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said the Olympics are arriving just as seasonal weather creates “extremely unfavorable conditions” across northern China. Ministry officials promised to fix the situation ahead of the Opening Ceremonies on Feb. 4 and authorized local governments to take “necessary action” to improve air quality.
Three weeks alone in a hotel room is hardly an ideal setting for a snowboarder preparing for the Olympics.
Patrizia Kummer, a Swiss athlete who won a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, is unvaccinated against the coronavirus, so she is spending 21 days in isolation in China before the Winter Games begin in Beijing on Feb. 4.
Even though vaccine rules are strict for the upcoming Olympics, a few unvaccinated athletes will still be taking part.
Compulsory mass coronavirus testing was ordered in parts of Beijing on Sunday following a runaway series of infections as China tightened anti-disease controls two weeks out from the Winter Olympics.
The government told citizens they must comply with the testing regime in areas of the Chinese capital deemed at high risk for infection. They also ordered locals not to leave the city after 25 cases were found in the Fengtai district and 14 elsewhere.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party is stepping up enforcement of its “zero tolerance” strategy aimed at isolating every infected person as Beijing prepares to open the Winter Games on Feb. 4 under intensive anti-virus controls, AP reports.
On Sunday, Fengtai residents lined up on snow-covered sidewalks in freezing weather for testing before being ordered to await further instructions.
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