A senior Beijing Olympics official reassured Tuesday that the COVID-19 situation at the Games is within the "expected controllable range" despite increasing positive cases being detected.
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee has reported 200 COVID cases since Jan. 23 among airport arrivals and those in the Games "closed loop" bubble that separates all event personnel, including athletes, from the public.
"As more people are entering China the imported COVID-19 cases are increasing," Huang Chun, deputy director-general of the committee's Pandemic Prevention and Control Office, told a news briefing.
Huang said rising cases were also a result of more effective and accurate COVID detection techniques by customs.
Organizers reported 24 new COVID-19 cases among Games-related personnel on Jan. 31, of which 16 were athletes.
Many athletes have been ruled out of the Feb. 4-20 Games after testing positive on arrival at the airport while others who are asymptomatic are isolating.
Three of the 414 members of the Canadian delegation in Beijing were impacted by China's COVID-19 protocols over their ability to fulfill their roles at the Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement Tuesday.
"Part of our strategy was to arrive early to allow time for confirmation testing and, if necessary, the Medical Expert Panel process to unfold," it said.
One of the positive cases is an athlete, although the Canadian committee did not disclose the name for privacy reasons.
"Getting to the Olympics is never easy and this time, as a new mom, it has been the most challenging," Elana Meyers Taylor, a three-time Olympic medalist in bobsled, wrote on social media from her isolation hotel.
China credits the strict COVID control measures, including frequent nucleic acid testings, for helping prevent clustered cases inside the closed loop.
"(The COVID-19 situation) is generally within our expected controllable range. So the Games participants, including athletes, and the Chinese public do not have to worry," said Huang.
He said Olympics organizers were not considering any major changes to COVID control policies at the Games.
In another development Tuesday, an Olympics official said that the Games venues could be up to 50% full, countering fears that COVID-19 would lead to a second consecutive Games without spectators.
Last year's Tokyo Summer Olympics took place largely behind closed doors and Chinese organizers decided not to sell tickets for the Beijing Games because of fears about the virus.
But Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director at the International Olympic Committee, said he hoped venues in China would be filled to between 30 and 50%.
"In terms of capacity we are not there yet, because it has to be fine-tuned at a venue-by-venue basis, but I'd say if we have one person out of three (available spots) or out of two, that would already be a good result," Dubi said in an interview on the official Beijing Games' website.
"It could also depend on whether it is outdoors or indoors. But the great thing is that we are going to have spectators," he added.
Dubi said the spectators would not be restricted to Chinese nationals – foreigners living in China have also been invited.
"We were very insistent on that," he said. "So they are also reaching out to the expat community and making sure, through the embassies and other ways and means, to identify those who live in Beijing and could attend the Games."