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HomeNewsYour Thursday Briefing: Beijing’s Olympic Problem

Your Thursday Briefing: Beijing’s Olympic Problem


We’re overlaying Beijing’s race to maintain Omicron away from the Olympics and meager outcomes from talks between NATO and Russia.

The Winter Olympics are simply three weeks away, however tickets have but to go on sale. Airways are shifting schedules, creating journey confusion. Now, there’s a spate of Covid outbreaks in China, together with some circumstances of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

As of Wednesday, greater than 20 million individuals remained confined to their houses in no less than 5 cities round China. One particularly worrying Covid flare-up is in Tianjin, a port metropolis simply 70 miles from Beijing.

The surge in infections even earlier than the arrival of 1000’s of athletes, journalists and officers underscores the problem Chinese language organizers face in making an attempt to carry the Video games with excessive restrictions. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 4.

What’s at stake: For Beijing, the Olympics are a possibility not solely to showcase China’s athletic achievements but additionally to validate its “zero Covid” strategy, mentioned Yanzhong Huang, director of the Middle for International Well being Research at Seton Corridor College. “If they will pull this off with out inflicting any main outbreaks, it could be one other gold medal that China can be comfortable to assert,” Huang mentioned.

The most recent: Officers urged individuals to chorus from pointless journey to the capital, however they are saying there are not any plans to lock down Beijing.

Restrictions: The Video games would be the most terribly restricted large-scale sporting occasion for the reason that begin of the pandemic. Unvaccinated individuals must spend 21 days in Beijing in solitary quarantine. Totally vaccinated members will stay in a tightly managed bubble.

Go deeper: Our columnist Li Yuan wrote about the military of tens of millions who implement China’s zero-Covid coverage, in any respect prices.

Listed below are the most recent updates and maps of the pandemic.

In different developments:


Russian and NATO officers mentioned they remained removed from settlement after 4 hours of talks in Brussels that the West had hoped would persuade Moscow to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine, the place 100,000 Russian troops are massed on the border.

“Our variations is not going to be simple to bridge,” the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, mentioned Wednesday at a information convention after the talks.

At a separate information convention, Alexander Grushko, a Russian deputy international minister, mentioned: “I need to say that the dialogue was moderately sincere, direct, deep and complete. However on the identical time it confirmed a large amount of divergence on elementary questions.”

Russian representatives didn’t decide to pulling again the troops on the border with Ukraine, nor did they reject the demand, officers mentioned. The U.S. and NATO allies provided Russia a sequence of additional conferences on European safety, and Russia indicated that, for now, it was not closing the door to diplomacy.

Divides: Russia has made an inventory of far-reaching calls for, together with that NATO pledge to halt additional eastward enlargement; agree to not admit Ukraine; and pull again its troops from NATO members bordering Russia. The U.S. and NATO allies strongly rejected them.

What’s subsequent: How severely is President Vladimir Putin considering full-scale battle with Ukraine? Nobody is aware of, besides maybe Putin. And that’s by design, writes our Moscow correspondent. Right this moment, the talks transfer to Vienna, the place Ukraine may have a seat on the desk for the primary time.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain apologized in Parliament on Wednesday for attending a Downing Road social gathering in Could 2020, as the federal government was telling individuals to remain dwelling.

Johnson, who had not beforehand admitted to being on the social gathering, acknowledged that his conduct had deeply offended the general public, whilst he insisted that the gathering didn’t breach his authorities’s laws.

“I need to apologize,” Johnson mentioned throughout an awfully tense session. “I do know the craze they really feel with me and with the federal government I lead after they suppose in Downing Road itself the foundations are usually not being correctly adopted by the individuals who make the foundations.”

Backlash: Officers of the opposition Labour Social gathering and the Scottish Conservatives chief, Douglas Ross, referred to as for Johnson’s resignation. The Occasions of London referred to as Ross’s feedback “the biggest divide but between the English and Scottish Tory events.”

With the brand new yr, many attempt to re-examine their relationship with alcohol by abstaining from it for Dry January. However the emergence of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus has some individuals questioning: Is that this month actually the time to cease consuming solely?

Lives lived: Michael Lang, one of many creators of the Woodstock pageant, which drew greater than 400,000 individuals to an upstate New York farm in 1969, died at 77.

“Don’t Look Up” is certainly one of Netflix’s hottest movies ever. After it premiered in December, local weather scientists took to social media and penned opinion essays, saying they felt seen ultimately.

Within the film, a planet-killing comet serves as a metaphor for the local weather disaster, and the staff of scientists frantically pushing for presidency motion who’re ignored for political causes, profiteering and apathy stand in for local weather scientists pushing for cuts to emissions.

Adam McKay, the movie’s director, needs it to be “a kick within the pants” that prompts pressing local weather motion. Netflix partnered with local weather scientists to share methods to take motion, and forged members have pointed to local weather laws voters can assist.

“I’m underneath no illusions that one movie would be the treatment to the local weather disaster,” McKay, whose earlier movies embrace “The Huge Brief” and “Vice,” wrote in an e mail to The New York Occasions. “But when it evokes dialog, vital pondering, and makes individuals much less tolerant of inaction from their leaders, then I’d say we achieved our aim.”

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