COVID’s effect on the Olympics, and more top COVID news

Let’s get caught up on today’s top COVID-19 news.

Olympic fans undaunted by closed Winter Games

Behind barrier fences, in socially distanced stadium seating or outside in below-freezing temperatures, these are an unusual Olympics for fans and spectators at these second pandemic-era Games.

Beijing’s Olympic village and all the competition venues are cut off from the surrounding city by fences and barriers, a so-called “closed loop” aimed at keeping athletes, coaches, journalists, Games staff and volunteers separated from Beijing locals. It’s all part of the strict COVID protocols imposed by the country where the coronavirus first emerged but claims some of the lowest death and infection rates in the world.

COVID-19 robs Olympic curlers of beloved social culture

There is a photograph from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics that captured curling fans’ hearts worldwide. In it, Canadian curler John Morris and American rival Matt Hamilton sit side by side, arms draped around each others’ shoulders, grinning faces inches apart, beer cans mid-clink.

It was a moment that perfectly captured the spirit of curling, a sport best known for its sweeping but perhaps best loved for its socializing. Yet it is a moment that will likely be impossible to repeat in the socially distanced world of the Beijing Games.

Russia hits new COVID-19 record; 10x more than a month ago

Russia is reporting a record daily count of new coronavirus infections, a tenfold spike from a month ago as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads through the country.

The figure of 189,071 new infections released by the state coronavirus task force on Sunday was about 2,800 cases more than the previous day and continued a surge that began in mid-January, when daily new cases were around 17,000.

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