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Olympic Games: put to the test by the Chinese bubble

 

The first to arrive in Beijing, Damien Desprat (Chef de Mission) had to come to terms quickly with the rigorous and intransigent system set up by the organisers.

Having left on Monday, Damien Desprat is the first Monegasque to arrive in Beijing. “There were only 167 people in the plane (chartered from Paris specifically for individuals accredited for the Games). We were seated widely apart, that was the intention.” 

 

Damien DESPRAT chef de mission COM

Damien Desprat, Chef de Mission, here standing next to two of his assistants. (photo COM

After a ten-hour flight, he landed in Beijing early on Tuesday morning. “We had to wait in the plane for thirty minutes while each of us had our temperature taken.  As soon as I left the plane, I had to follow a specific route, surveyed by volunteers dressed like cosmonauts all along the way.” 

 

Double partition wall

 

After an initial check by customs and a second for accreditation, we had to undergo two PCR tests, one in the nose and the other in the throat. “I waited 45 minutes in a room before getting the bus for the Beijing Olympic Village.” That’s where the registration process was carried out for the delegation.  “I wasn’t required to have my bags checked, so that saved me some time.”  As soon as he arrived in the village, Damien Desprat had to self-isolate “in a room with a thick double partition wall. I was alone. Every now and again, someone came to ask me if I wanted something to drink.” 

After two hours of waiting, he was given a telephone number to make a video call using Zhumu (the Asian equivalent of the Zoom application). “In another room nearby, a person explained all the formalities: controlling athletes’ entry, lodging allocation, validation of everyone’s accreditation. Once all the papers were ready, they sent them to me through small hatches in the double partition so that I could sign them.”  

Restaurant village olympique Pekin COM

Round-the-clock disinfection of the venue 

Having completed this important administrative step, he had lunch in the village restaurant. “We are alone at the table, enclosed within three partitions.” 

Then he headed off to the Yanqing Olympic Village in the mountains, a one hour and 45- minute bus-drive from the capital. “There was no problem with the bag check at the entrance. Then I collected the keys for our lodgings, and I was introduced to my three assistants, one of whom speaks excellent French. Like the other volunteers, they are all dressed in body suits from head to toe, with gloves, FFP2 masks and visors. “We are able to tell the difference between volunteers, assistants and supervisors etc. thanks to a strip of colour on the top of the visor.  Some are responsible for disinfecting the venue around the clock.” 

At the Olympic Village restaurant in Beijing, everything has been arranged to minimise contact. (photo COM)

He was then granted access to the two apartments and the office of the Monegasque delegation. “I was then asked not to leave my room, pending the results of my tests. My assistants sent me photos to ask me what I wanted to eat and brought me my meal on a tray to my room.”

Damien Desprat received confirmation later that evening that he was negative. The Olympic adventure can therefore continue for the Chef de Mission after an extremely demanding first day. “We had been warned beforehand that all these procedures could take time.” Unique initial contact with the Chinese volunteers. “We can only see their eyes. They are extremely attentive and ready to help. However, we are not used to this approach and this human distancing within an Olympic context. We’ll have to get used to it.” Just like the daily PCR tests in the throat which are mandatory for all individuals accredited for the Games. 

 

Stéphan Maggi,

Press Officer for the Monegasque Olympic Committee

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