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China replicates Beijing Olympic bubble for rare sporting event

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SHANGHAIA China will replicate its Covid-safe Olympic bubble when it hosts its first major international sporting event since the Beijing Winter Games, which organizers call a rollercoaster ride.

Chengdu, which was closed until recently and was also ravaged by an earthquake earlier this month, will host the World Table Tennis Championships for 10 days from Friday.

Like the Beijing Olympics and Paralympic Games in February-March, the tournament will unfold in a closed loop to comply with strict zero-Covid policies that have canceled most other major sporting events in China during the pandemic.

The chief executive of the ITTF, the governing body of table tennis, called it one of the most, if not the most complex and important table tennis events in ITTF history.

Nearly 1,300 people will be enveloped in the championship bubble.

The road to Chengdu was indeed bumpy or a roller coaster ride, said Steve Dainton.

Competition was pushed back once due to a surge in coronavirus cases at the start of the year, driven by the Omicron variant.

Then, with less than a month to go, the southwestern city of Chengdu was under a severe lockdown that closed schools, disrupted businesses and forced residents to stay home for more than two weeks.

Of course, we were also looking for contingencies if we didn’t make it in the end, but… the popularity and history our sport has in China has always given us a strong sense of hope, Dainton said.

ITTF President Petra Sorling said words cannot express the excitement about the tournament finally getting underway.

More than 250 table tennis players from around the world, including the United States, arrived on specially chartered flights.

They, along with coaches, officials and other personnel, will be in the closed loop during the Championships.

They stay in specific hotels, are transported to and from event venues and are required to pass a PCR test every day.

So far, the ITTF said all participants had tested negative since their arrival.

It’s great that we can play these championships even if the restrictions are strict, Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson said on the ITTF website. AFP

  • Keywords: Beijing Olympics, China

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