Members of the media have attended the Olympic Games for generations. However, it hasn’t been as simple as before, given that the last two Olympics were held simultaneously with a pandemic.
The quadrennial international event offers members of the media some of the most interesting and exhilarating content to cover throughout the three-week period. However, this incredible opportunity comes at a cost this year.
Safety precautions and protocols for athletes, spectators and media personnel are more intense than ever, but NBC has taken this attitude: The show must go on.
NBC LX’s Fernando Hurtado and Ngozi Ekeledo will cover the Beijing Olympics alongside prime-time host Mike Tirico, while most other NBC correspondents will report from their headquarters in Stamford, Conn. due to COVID-19 concerns.
Hurtado arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport at 12:34 a.m. on Monday, January 24, just 11 days before the opening ceremony, to begin its entry process.
Here’s everything members of the media need to do to set foot on Chinese soil to do their job, as Hurtado himself said:
What steps need to be taken to attend the Beijing 2022 Games as a member of the media (before flying)?
China has a zero-tolerance policy for COVID-19, so 14 days before travel, members of the media should start monitoring their health on an app created by the Beijing Organizing Committee.
In the app, individuals are asked questions regarding symptoms (fever, dry cough, headache) and their temperature, which is updated throughout these two weeks before heading to the airport.
Then, members of the media must take a COVID-19 test 96 hours before takeoff. This test must be negative.
The 72 hours before takeoff are the most crucial, as individuals must take another COVID-19 test. They must all fill out a form to receive a Green Health QR code, which tells the Chinese government and Olympic organizers that you have tested negative for the virus, are fully vaccinated and can safely attend the Games.
On the day of the flight, NBC is asking members of the media to take one last COVID-19 test before boarding the plane to Beijing, just to catch any last-minute positive results.
How do airlines promote safety during the 16 hour flight?
Hurtado flew Delta from LAX to Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, waited on the tarmac for flight crews to change, then flew two more hours to land at Beijing International Airport Capital in China.
In order to ensure passenger safety, the seats have been blocked in columns to increase the distance between individuals.
Like any other pandemic flight, face masks were required throughout the journey.
What are the steps to attend the Beijing 2022 Games as a media member (on arrival)?
According to Hurtado, several individuals in white protective suits were waiting on the tarmac for the arrival of the plane. Passengers were told that once they landed, these officials would board the flight to check everyone’s temperature. However, a change of plan occurred and the passengers were told to disembark the plane first.
Chinese authorities require passengers to wear approved masks when landing: N95 and KN95 masks.
Passengers are required to check in at kiosks, which ask typical customs questions and other COVID-19 questions.
Of course, COVID-19 testing is next on the agenda. China requires (extremely deep) nasal swab and a throat swab, to ensure accuracy.
Reporters must then activate their Olympic IDs.
Finally, members of the media are taken to baggage claim and then to the bus which takes them to their hotel. Individuals are asked to wait inside their hotel room until their negative tests come back. Once the tests have returned, people are asked to return to the hotel reception to complete their check-in process.
It is crucial that participants stay inside the hotel (however, they can leave their room) for the first 24 hours after arriving in Beijing. It is the policy of the BNC.
What kinds of limitations do people from China face?
Every ounce of movement is monitored and directed by officials, given China’s “closed-loop” system, which allows individuals to enter the country without undergoing a 21-day quarantine. Media cannot cross the loop, which means they cannot interact with locals, other visitors or anyone who is not there simply to participate in the Olympics.
Members of the media are extremely limited as to where they can go. A tall green fence surrounds the hotels, ensuring that no attendees leave the bubble. This is not a conventional tourist trip to historic Beijing, as individuals can only transfer between their hotels and the Olympic venues. In addition, they must be transported by official Olympic shuttles. Walking, taxis and public transport are prohibited.
What do members of the media need to do daily to participate?
Daily COVID-19 testing is required. If you do not pass the test, you are not allowed to work that day. If you test positive, the Olympic playbook requires you to be taken to a separate hotel room to quarantine yourself if you are asymptomatic. If you are symptomatic, you are transported to a Chinese hospital. You can only leave either facility once you are symptom free, your body temperature has been normal for three days and you have had two negative tests within 24 hours.
Who from NBC is going to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics?
This year, NBC already has 250 people in Beijing, the majority of them technical staff and one of them being NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel.
NBC is sending two NBC LX reporters, Hurtado and Ekeledo, to provide main coverage, alongside prime-time host Mike Tirico. Tirico will handle coverage Feb. 3-10, but then he’ll fly to Los Angeles to do the network’s Super Bowl coverage. Depending on the Super Bowl result, Tirico may or may not be back for the final week of the 2022 Beijing Games.
Most other NBC correspondents will report from their headquarters in Stamford, due to COVID-19 concerns and China’s strict policies.
These will be the second Games where broadcast crews will work from NBC Sports headquarters, rather than the host city. It’s similar to the Tokyo Games last summer when NBC’s announcers were in the United States, except for track and field, swimming and gymnastics, which had announcers in Japan.
NBC’s Olympic Production Unit Manager Molly Soloman said, “With the changing COVID conditions and China’s zero-tolerance policy, this just adds a layer of complexity to it all, we so we have to make sure that we can provide the same quality experience to the American. the viewers. This is why we are torn between the two cities.
The network no longer sends news crews to cover alpine skiing, figure skating and snowboarding in Beijing.
“Our plans will continue to evolve as conditions change, and we will remain flexible as we move forward,” NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes said.
NBC remains extremely transparent about its choice to have a majority of its advertisers offsite. After all, remote coverage has become all the more prevalent since the pandemic surge.