TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Swedish cartoonist created this illustration of a COVID particle serving as Team China's flag bearer during the opening ceremony of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
On Saturday (Jan. 15), Chinese state media announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in Beijing. The timing of the infection could not be much worse for the communist regime with the Olympics less than three weeks away.
The presence of the highly infectious variant in the capital city threatens to hamper China's ambition to showcase the games as an example of its superior handling of the pandemic, as its zero-COVID policy collides with the need to keep the city open for the athletes, media, and dignitaries. If Omicron cases spike in Beijing, the Chinese government could find itself struggling to stick to its playbook of locking down entire cities while keeping the massive international sporting event free of the virus.
On Monday (Jan. 17), Swedish journalist Jojje Olssonon on his news blog Kinamedia posted an article titled "Satire: Omicron arrives just in time for the Olympics" in which he pointed out that neighboring Tianjin had reported an outbreak of Omicron cases the previous week that soon swelled to over 300 symptomatic cases, including 80 reported on Monday (Jan. 17) alone. He pointed out that Omicron is rapidly spreading across China, with at least five provinces and municipalities reporting local transmission of the variant so far.
That same day, Chinese state-operated media outlets such as the Global Times blamed the case in Beijing on a piece of mail from Canada and a case in Shenzhen on "contaminated goods from overseas." However, Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, was cited by CTV News as saying that transmission through international mail is “highly improbable.”
In the illustration, a giant COVID virion grins triumphantly as it carries the Chinese flag with one spike protein while waving to empty seats with another. Trailing behind are a handful of masked Chinese athletes.