Swedish journalist becomes quarantine story in Beijing

A man photographs an illuminated logo ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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ZHANGJIAKOU, China, Feb 6 (Reuters) – A Swedish journalist who was taken to solitary confinement by ambulance at the Beijing Olympics has found a way to keep working, writing a diary of his time in Chinese quarantine for his newspaper.

Philip Gadd tested positive for COVID-19 after landing in Beijing on Wednesday to cover the Winter Olympics and soon found himself isolated from the rest of the world in a designated quarantine hotel.

Gadd’s early columns for the Expressen newspaper, where he works as a reporter and web TV presenter, covered his experiences as ‘astronauts’ – civil servants clad head to toe in personal protective equipment (EPI) – transported him to the facility, far away from the gold-seeking athletes and the media covering them.

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Gadd was outfitted for the trip in his own PPE, with a mask, visor, gloves and a one-piece white suit that covered him from head to toe.

“It was a really terrifying experience and I just felt like…it didn’t feel real to me. It was like I was in a movie, a sci-fi movie or something,” he told Reuters in a Zoom interview from his quarantine hotel.

“It was really difficult to understand that everything had happened to me. I was really far from home. I’m from Sweden, so I traveled all the way to China and I was alone, no one to talk to, in an ambulance.”

Journalists covering the games are subjected to daily COVID tests, required to wear masks and are separated by metal barriers from the athletes they interview in the mixed zones.

Gadd tested negative on Saturday and is now awaiting a second negative result so he can join his colleagues and cover the cross-country events as planned.

He said the internet was good in the hotel so he was able to help his colleagues remotely.

Many quarantined athletes have complained about the lack of food, but Gadd said that hasn’t been a problem. What he missed most, besides his friends, his family and his girlfriend, was the freedom to make his own choices.

“I think the first thing I’ll do when I come here is take a menu somewhere in a restaurant and choose something I want to have. That’s what I miss the most,” he said. declared.

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Reporting by Philip O’Connor and Ilze Filks; edited by Clare Fallon

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