For the duration of the Games which begin next week, China will isolate all foreigners from contact with the public. This means that participants will be taken to the Beijing airport by special vehicles.
Yirmiyan Arthur of the Associated Press, who arrived this week, stated that "I know the only experience I'm going have of Beijing is the Beijing I see from my bus window and my Hotel window." "I am not going to actually experience China. I'm only going to experience the Olympics in the bubble."
The stories of AP journalists who are about to leave or have just arrived offer a glimpse inside the bubble.
Jae Hong, a photographer, said that he was warned about the bubble, but that seeing it in action in Beijing was still shocking. Jae Hong described being met by workers wearing full-body protective gear and white gloves. Before being taken to their hotels, everyone is checked for COVID-19.
Organizers want to prevent infections spreading outside the bubble. This is a greater concern due to the easily transmitted omicron variant. Everybody is tested every day. Failure to test the previous evening could result in you being locked up at your hotel the following morning.
Thursday's announcement by organizers stated that there have been 129 positive results from the 4,046 participants who arrived to the Games. Two of those are athletes and two are team officials. Rest are participants, such as media. If they are positive, they will be admitted to hospital with symptoms or quarantined in a hotel.
It can be nerve-wracking to even reach China. You will need to submit multiple negative COVID-19 test results into an app that shows your health status. Arthur was nervous as she traveled from New Delhi via Tokyo to Beijing. She was aided by a colleague who had arrived in Beijing to download the app. After she got off the plane, she was greeted by health workers wearing biohazard suits.
"In the airport, it's a bit frightening, it's almost as if a hospital was treating COVID patients during the second wave," she stated, referring to India’s devastating surge of March 2021.
Tokyo had its own rules last year for the Summer Olympics, but participants were permitted to leave the bubble after two weeks.
Johnson Lai, AP video journalist, has yet to leave for the Olympics. This is because China does not have formal relations with Taiwan. It claims Taiwan as its territory.
He was therefore unable to fill out the Olympics app form to obtain a code. This requires that a test be conducted in a China-approved hospital. He said that there are many unknowns that we cannot control.
The bubble was not the only thing that Beijing authorities have taken into custody. They are trying to stop a deadly delta virus outbreak that has infected around 70 people.
China's "zero tolerance" policy means that it quickly closes down any affected areas and then conducts mass testing on residents to identify and isolate infections. Since last weekend, all 2 million Fengtai residents have been subject to a third round.
The Beijing epidemic has now spread to other provinces. Authorities suspended travel between the two cities after four cases were reported in Langfang, which is just south of Beijing, Hebei province.
Arthur, the photo editor could see passengers from the airport via a bus. This view allowed him to see people outside of the Olympics bubble. She said that she could see "oh, there is life out there" and that it was so close yet so far.