Beijing’s ‘invisible’ Olympics: Muted but watched online | Technology

Written by ZEN SOO – AP Technology Writer

Zhou Jun remembers preparing for the 2008 Summer Olympics, when everyone seemed to be learning English to be able to talk to foreign guests who were about to descend into the city.

Athletes and foreign fans roamed the city throughout the Games. “I remember that the streets and alleys were filled with the theme song of the Beijing Olympics,” said the 37-year-old. “There were mascots everywhere. The atmosphere was very festive. “

This year, the Olympics returned to China, which has changed a lot, and the atmosphere has become much more subdued.

Because of the pandemic, only a select few can personally observe the competition, and strict COVID protocols completely separate 16,000 athletes and other participants from the local population.

Like many other things in the pandemic era, Beijing is mostly experiencing the Games on their smartphones, little different from fans thousands of miles away from the venues.

Lu Linjin remembers the excitement she felt in 2008 watching some of the world’s best volleyball teams. Now 34 years old, she holds on mostly through short videos and live broadcasts – both of which were not there when the Olympics last came to China.

“I would like to personally observe sporting events, but if that means I need to be tested for coronavirus, forget about it,” she said. “Even if I could be there, the atmosphere of the Winter Olympics during the pandemic is not the same. … It’s annoying. “

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