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Olympics: Omicron, boycotts and new guidelines for trans athletes

BEIJING, China (KXAN) – China says it is still on track to host the Beijing Olympics as scheduled in February, but organizers say the omicron COVID-19 variant is of concern.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing last week that the new variant “would certainly bring challenges in terms of prevention and control,” according to the Associated Press.

Dr Stephen Thomas, an infectious disease specialist at Upstate University Hospital in New York City, said early evidence suggests that vaccinated people infected with the omicron variant show only mild symptoms. However, more studies are needed to determine to what extent currently available vaccines repel the worst effects of the variant.

“The recommendation remains that if you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated,” Dr Thomas said. “If you’re eligible for a third dose or a booster, you should get one.”

American diplomatic boycott

In addition to considering the safety of COVID-19 when it comes to gaming, some countries are considering the level at which they want to participate.

The United States will organize a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest China’s human rights violations, the White House confirmed on Monday. The Chinese authorities have now promised to respond to this decision with “firm countermeasures”.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said American athletes would continue to compete and “have our full support”, but added “we will not be contributing to the games fanfare.”

Advocacy groups protested against the Beijing Games, in particular against China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims who live in the northwestern Xinjiang region, as well as its response to protesters in Hong Kong and policies related to Tibet and in Taiwan.

A diplomatic boycott would not prevent athletes from competing, but it would mean that high-level delegations from each country could not participate. For example, last year First Lady Jill Biden led a group of American leaders to the Tokyo Olympics last year, attending ceremonies and some events.

Guidelines for transgender and intersex athletes

Sports governing bodies around the world also have new guidelines to consider when it comes to allowing transgender and intersex athletes to compete.

The International Olympic Committee recently released a framework that provides guidance for rule writing, and specifically states that transgender and intersex athletes should no longer have a presumed advantage.

“No athlete should be precluded from competing or excluded from competition on the sole ground of a competitive advantage not verified, alleged or perceived to be unfair due to their sexual variations, physical appearance and / or transgender status” , stipulates the framework of the IOC.

Governing bodies are not required to follow these guidelines, but the IOC document states that the exclusion of these athletes from competition “should be based on solid research and peer reviewed. It does not provide specific examples of what kind of studies this would include.


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