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Simon Chadwick: Place the health and well-being of the global sports community

Simon Chadwick, Professor of Eurasian Sport Industry

In this issue, the Center has invited Dr. Simon Chadwick, director of Eurasian Sport, Professor of Eurasian Sport Industry and Director of the Centre for the Eurasian Sport Industry. His research interests focus on sports management and sports sponsorship. His recent research includes speculative Capitalism and Authoritarianism and Global Red Lines Determine the Future of Football.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will soon be held in Beijing, and a large number of foreign athletes and their entourages will arrive in The city, bringing a huge migration of people. In the context of COVID-19, how will the Hosting of the Winter Olympics be affected? What measures will Beijing organizers take to ensure the success of the Winter Olympics?

In this regard, the Center conducted this special interview with Dr. Simon Chadwick, hoping to get his insights on the issues of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

Place the health and well-being of the global sports community at the centre of decision-making

1.With the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games is approaching, a large number of foreign athletes and their accompanying teams will arrive in Beijing, which will increase population mobility to a certain extent. Under such circumstances, how do you think the 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be affected?

The Olympic Games’ essence is of equality, global movement and open access. It is important that members of the world’s sport community can all participate or enjoy the event in the same way. As such, we should all do our utmost to ensure that we enable the Winter Games to go ahead in the best way possible. However, the pandemic has been an unprecedented event that continues to challenge both the preservation of human health and safety, and the successful delivery of sporting events. We have seen across the world, for example at some horse racing events in the UK, that sport can be responsible for virus superspreading episodes. Equally, the likes of German football has successfully controlled matches, opening them to smaller numbers of fans whilst ensuring high standards of public safety. We also know that Japan was largely successful in delivering the Olympic Games last summer, by limiting the numbers of people able to attend. In addition, officials in Tokyo also enforced strict quarantining and maintained stringent public health measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. Despite a small spike in infections, one nevertheless has to conclude that officials in Japan largely got it right. There are lessons for China’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in the experiences of Tokyo. Whilst the event should be an opportunity for China to open itself to the world, circumstances currently dictate otherwise. The athletes will still be present and China must do its utmost to ease their entry whilst preserving their safety. For others who need or want to be present, such as sponsor representatives, my view is that public health comes first and contractual obligation only comes second. As for spectators, it may be an inconvenient truth for the local organising committee, but some or perhaps even all of the event may need to take place without fans being present. It could be that not even local Chinese fans are present at events. Such a decision will need to be made closer to the time. Whatever the ultimate decision is, China has an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it is putting the health and welfare of the global sport community centre-stage in its decision-making.

2. Apart from objective reasons such as infectious diseases and climate, what anthropic factors do you think will directly or indirectly affect public health safety in this winter Olympic Games?

Right now, the pandemic is THE number one public health challenge facing the Winter Games. It is important to keep in mind that such matters do not just relate to people inside venues and stadiums. How people travel to the event, where they stay, how they eat, what activities they engage in when they are not watching sport and so forth, are all important variables in the event landscape that need to be considered. Such matters come on top of the normal event security issues that will need to be considered, including the likes of how to manage potentially large numbers of people. Nevertheless, across numerous Olympic Games and other mega-events such as the FIFA World Cup, there are experts from across the world who know how best to handle the anthropic challenges associated with such events.

3. What measures do you think should be taken to solve the problems you mentioned above?

Covid aside, my view is that no special or exceptional measures are required to maintain standards of public health and welfare at the event. The IOC and the local organizing committee together will have followed established protocols and procedures for ensuring the safety and security of the event. There is considerable event organization experience within both organisations, plans to address most health and safety challenges will be in place.

Interviewer: Zhang Jiabao

Interview date: November 03, 2021



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