Athletes and support staff taking part in next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing have been warned they could be disqualified if they breach strict Covid-19 controls . Zhang Jiandong, a vice mayor of Beijing and deputy chairman of the Games organising committee, issued the warning on Wednesday at a media briefing outlining the latest preparations for the event. Zhang said Covid-19 was the “biggest challenge” the organisers faced and said all those involved in the Games were expected to adhere to the strict controls agreed by the Chinese authorities and International Olympic Committee. China to quarantine unvaccinated athletes at Winter Games Competitors, coaches and support staff will be expected to stay within a “closed loop” and avoid contact with the general public. “We will strictly enforce the relevant penalties. Some details are also being communicated with the IOC,” Zhang said. “Those who do not comply with the provisions of the epidemic prevention manual may face more serious consequences such as warnings, temporary or permanent withdrawal of accreditation, ineligibility or exclusion from the Games, expulsion from the competition, and disqualification.” Strict controls were also put in place for this year’s Summer Games in Tokyo , where athletes also risked expulsion and sanctions for breaching Covid-19 rules. Overseas athletes taking part in Beijing 2022 are expected to enter the “closed-loop bubble” at the airport if they have been fully vaccinated and will have to travel in designated vehicles and be subject to strict controls and testing, but they will enjoy a certain freedom of movement within the bubble. Those who have not been vaccinated will have to spend 21 days in quarantine on arrival. According to the guidelines released by the Beijing organising committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee on Monday, athletes from overseas are expected to monitor their health 14 days prior to the trip to Beijing and, on arrival, undergo daily coronavirus tests and frequent temperature checks. Anyone testing positive will have to go into isolation or to a hospital for treatment. “People inside the loop are all stakeholders involved in the Olympic Games, as well as Chinese staff and volunteers, who are all subject to the same closed-loop management policy and are strictly separated from the general public,” Zhang said. Beijing bolts doors to Covid-19 as Communist Party meeting and Olympics loom “They must not leave the close-loop bubble or come into contact with the public.” China tested its facilities and Covid-19 controls by hosting a number of international tournaments this month, including the China Open speed skating, the Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy and Short-track Speedskating World Cup in Beijing and neighbouring Hebei province. Competitors in those also had to stay within a bubble and follow Covid-19 protocols. Hebei province has completed Covid-19 vaccination for those involved in the Games and built a lab that can test 40,000 coronavirus samples a day. A team of 800 health care providers and 300 ambulances will be on hand for the Games. The Winter Olympics will start on February 4 and overseas spectators will not be allowed to attend.