Organizers of the Beijing Winter Olympics are limiting all face-to-face interactions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, emphasizing the restrictive nature of this year’s Games.
As part of the organization’s plan to maintain a “closed-loop,” food at the Winter Olympics Main Media Center is prepared and served by robotic technology.
According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, “the intelligent meal preparation and meal service system here can not only improve the efficiency of meal supply, but also save manpower to the maximum extent and avoid excessive human interaction in the context of epidemic prevention and control.”
The restaurant is open to athletes, attendees, and journalists 24 hours a day. Robotic arms deliver noodles, flip hamburgers, serve cocktails, and grind coffee beans. Tables are divided by plexiglass in compliance with social distancing regulations. There are no waiters or waitresses due to the COVID-19 regulations.
Those approved to take part in the Olympics are only allowed to fly into certain airports. To enter the country, they must show two negative COVID-19 tests and submit to additional COVID-19 testing upon arrival.
They then enter what has been described as a self-contained city within Beijing created to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between foreigners and the local population. It is physically separated by fencing and guards.
Athletes are tested every day inside the “closed-loop” and are transported to various facilities via high-speed trains.
There is no place at any Olympic venues for public assembly. China has only allowed a limited group of spectators to watch the games in-person on the condition that they present negative COVID-19 tests, per NBC News.
At the Tokyo Olympics last year, athletes dominated social media by sharing behind-the-scenes looks at life inside the Olympic Villages or taking part in TikTok trends. This year, American athletes were discouraged from using their personal devices, including cellphones, because of possible cybersecurity breaches and internet monitoring conducted by the Chinese government.
At least 45 cases of COVID-19 have been detected within the “closed-loop” as of Feb. 4. Of the detected cases, 25 were among athletes and 20 were journalists and diplomats.