Beijing plans to keep pandemic border restrictions in place for at least another year amid fears over the emergence of new variants and a calendar of sensitive events, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The provisional timeline for the second half of 2022 was set during a meeting of China’s cabinet, or State Council, in mid-May, the WSJ said.
China sharply reduced transport links with other countries as Covid-19, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, spread around the world last year.
Beijing, is due to host the Winter Olympics and the Winter Paralympics in February 2022, bringing thousands of participating athletes to the country.
Travellers to mainland China, regardless of nationality, face tough requirements prior to travel including multiple medical tests and stringent quarantine rules upon entry.
Airlines, both Chinese and non-Chinese, also face the risk of their flight routes being suspended temporarily if a certain number of infected passengers are detected on arrival in China.
Reported daily cases in China are currently far lower than in other major countries but the Chinese government is acutely aware of potential wider transmissions due to its dense urban populations and highly developed transport network.
China reported 25 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in the mainland for June 21, of which 23 were imported infections, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday.
CNN reports that Beijing is the first city ever to host both the summer and winter Olympic Games. The 2008 Summer Olympics were also held in Beijing.
Next year, 13 venues, split between the zones of Beijing, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, will be used during the 17 days of the Games.
A total of 109 events will be held, in 15 disciplines across seven sports: biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing.
The entire Games will feature artificial snow for the outdoor events since snow is not common there.
The Games have been heavily criticised amid allegations of China’s human rights abuses, notably towards the minority Uyghur population.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) states on its website that it is committed to improving the promotion and respect of human rights.
The IOC says that its objective is to strengthen the human rights approach in the organisation and delivery of the Olympic Games, in close collaboration with local and national Organising Committees for the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games organisers and support them further in developing and implementing their human rights approaches.