Monday, January 31st:
📍 As part of the COVID-19 counter measures here in Beijing, journalists are asked to stay in their hotel for their first day after arrival, even with a negative test. I spent the day doing some work related stuff, unpacking, finding my choice of restaurants in the hotel (there’s two, plus a bar) and figuring out how to reserve a time slot in the gym. There’s also a pool, steam room, and sauna. Whether I actually make it into the gym during a trip like this is an entirely different question. That was Monday, today is when things really start moving full speed ahead. I’m heading from the hotel to the Olympic plaza where the International Broadcast Center (IBC) is located. The giant building is where journalists from around the world gather as part of a central remote work space. It seems less crowded than previous Olympics, which would make sense given all the challenges of getting into China right now.
NBC has a fairly large area inside the IBC which includes space for news teams, NBC sports, logistics, medical attention, and most importantly a cafeteria (more on the food in a later post!) This is the central hub here in China for all of the Olympic production. I have my own desk in an NBC area set aside for local news crews where I’ll be spending a lot of time.
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Shortly after arriving here we had some breaking news about an Olympian with San Diego ties testing positive for COVID-19. Elana Meyers Taylor used to live and train in Chula Vista and has medaled in three Olympics, but she has never won gold. I’m hoping this isn’t the end of the road for a phenomenal athlete (and human being by the way) who is now in quarantine. I put a quick script together, got a photog friend to shoot a “look live stand up” and sent the clip back to San Diego for a few more edits.
These initial days are some of the most taxing because you don’t know how to get anywhere easily. Everything is unfamiliar. Your brain is working on overdrive. I already got lost a few times just inside the NBC area. The Olympic bus system is a beast in it’s own with dozens of routes to all of the different venues and Olympic areas. At previous games you could always jump in a taxi or Uber, but it isn’t an option here in Beijing. Walking from point A to point B isn’t an option either. You have to take the media busses everywhere. They weave in and out of metal fences which are the barricades of the “closed loop system.” The basic idea is to keep the people of China on one side of the fence and the games’ foreigners on another side. There are A LOT of fences, barricades, and checkpoints.