In a memo distributed to liaison officers from national Olympic committees and Games broadcasters, the Beijing 2022 organizing committee said participants producing PCR tests with a value of 35 or more would no longer be placed in solitary confinement.
In order to adapt to the reality of the current environment and to better support participants (…) we have refined the countermeasures with the following changes, which are effective as of January 23 , Beijing 2022 reported.
New arrivals who produce tests equal to or greater than CT 35 must however respect a social distancing protocol for 7 days after their arrival. Those with results below 35 will be considered positive. (Editor’s note: The higher the CT, the less people are considered contagious).
This new measure, if applied verbatim by the Chinese authorities, will bring sighs of relief to hundreds, if not thousands, of people (athletes, officials, media representatives) who have contracted (and treated) COVID-19 in recent years. weeks and which are due to disembark in Beijing over the next few days.
Chinese authorities said they had set the sensitivity level of their tests at CT 40, while international standards generally revolve around CT 35.
The Canadian Olympic Committee’s chief medical officer, Dr. Mike Wilkins, was the first to sound the alarm last Monday (New window).
He said the level of sensitivity of the tests carried out by the Chinese authorities was so high that Canadian athletes risked having their Games compromised or complicated by positive results.
Since the beginning of December, several dozen Canadian athletes have contracted COVID-19, including almost all of the bobsleigh and short track speed skating teams. A large percentage of the women’s hockey team suffered the same fate.
On Tuesday, Radio-Canada Sports had published a text suggesting chaos with the arrival of large contingents of athletes, officials and journalists over the next few days.
Two Radio-Canada employees, who had contracted COVID-19 during the month of December, had been placed in isolation upon their arrival in Beijing despite the fact that they had produced five negative PCR tests before their departure. The tests had been conducted in one of the most reputable laboratories in Canada.
Subsequently, from day to day, the test results of these two members of the Radio-Canada delegation varied like yo-yos, going from positive to negative. Several experts had spontaneously jumped when they learned of this story.
The CEO of a major Canadian laboratory had explained that when the sensitivity of the tests is pushed to the limit, the results produced are equivalent to those of a lottery because they intercept even tiny particles of virus which are long dead .
Dr. Michel Roger for his part expressed the opinion that the sequence of events which was told to him made
bric-a-brac . The latter is a doctor, microbiologist and infectiologist at the CHUM. Until last September, he was the director of the public health laboratory of Quebec.
In the light of inside information, a Canadian expert even estimated that the sensitivity of the Chinese tests was much higher than the CT 40 value announced.
This story had been taken up in various media around the world, including the renowned specialized site francsjeux.com. And it had sown a great wave of concern among representatives of the media and major broadcasters.
In recent days, in another internal note addressed to the liaison officers of the various delegations, Beijing 2022 still praised the effectiveness of its detection and isolation protocols.
Last Friday, the IOC even made its chief medical officer, Dr. Brian McCloskey, available to Radio-Canada and CBC journalists to argue that the extreme sensitivity of the tests was necessary and that the number of intercepted cases was negligible.
On the ground, however, several international broadcasters were experiencing a different reality. Several of their employees having perfectly complied with the protocol, however extremely strict, were placed in isolation. Since everyone was held to the same standards, this was a precursor to the fate reserved for athletes.
According to our sources, this weekend, the NBC network had 14 isolated employees, France Télé had 4, OBS (the network that provides competition coverage) had no less than 22. Among the staff employed to do maintenance sites, there was also an abnormally high number of people placed in isolation. Some even mentioned a
climate of panic .
As far as our colleagues from Radio-Canada Sports are concerned, one was released from solitary confinement on Saturday. Another was placed back in isolation the same day, 24 hours after finally being declared negative! In their case, the
chinese lottery had been going on since their arrival eight days ago.
Adjustments to sensitivity rates, as well as other measures announced by the Chinese authorities, should however allow them to be able to start working. At least we hope so.
Many people realized that things were seriously out of whack over the past week when NBC announced that its descriptors and analysts would be reporting on the competitions from the United States.
The network cited Chinese authorities’ intransigence on COVID-19 as the reason for the move. The NBC network, which invested $7.75 billion in 2014 to secure the rights to broadcast the Games, is the IOC’s most influential partner. NBC dictates until the times of the competitions. The American network is, so to speak, co-owner of the Games.
NBC’s delegation is so large that no matter where the Games are held around the world, American headquarters takes on the appearance of a mini village fueled by a cafeteria serving high-quality food 24 hours a day, and even a Starbucks arranged only for its employees.
In short, for NBC to decide to keep its most visible staff at home, the concerns had to be real.
It will now be necessary to monitor how the arrival of large contingents of athletes and media representatives will unfold over the next few days in Beijing. The first Canadian athletes heading to China are scheduled to leave the country on Wednesday, January 26.