Day 3 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

By Helen Regan, Patrick Sung, Ben Church, Aditi Sangal and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 8:07 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022
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1:06 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Beijing reports 24 new Olympics-related Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Gawon Bae

The Beijing Olympic Committee identified 24 new Covid-19 cases among Games-related personnel on Sunday, it said in a statement Monday.

Of the new cases, 11 were found among airport arrivals and 13 from those already in the “closed loop” system, which separates Olympic athletes, stakeholders, and staff from the public.

Twelve of the new cases involved athletes or team officials, five of which were inside the closed loop bubble.

Some 387 Olympics-related personnel and stakeholders have tested positive for Covid-19, with 154 of the cases involving athletes or team officials, since the official closed loop system began on Jan. 23.

A total of 888,979 Covid-19 tests have been conducted inside the bubble since Jan. 23, and 12,697 people have arrived in Beijing for the Games, the statement added.

12:56 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Eileen Gu says she's on a mission to bring freeskiing to a new generation in China

From CNN's Nectar Gan in Beijing

Eileen Gu of Team China speaks to the media at the women's freestyle skiing freeski big air qualification on Monday.
Eileen Gu of Team China speaks to the media at the women's freestyle skiing freeski big air qualification on Monday. (Liu Lu/VCG/Getty Images)

Speaking to reporters after qualifying for the final of the big air event Monday, China's teen skiing sensation Eileen Gu said "you’re never too young to make change."

Gu finished fifth in qualifying, earning her a spot in Tuesday's finals, after recovering from a fall on the second of her three jumps to deliver a firm landing on her third.

Hailing from San Francisco, Gu relinquished her US citizenship in 2019 so she could represent China at Beijing 2022.

“Back in 2019, I chose to compete for China with the goal to spread the sport to a whole new generation, who in many cases have never heard of the sport of freeskiing before," she said.
"My mission the whole time has been to spread the sport, to spread the joy, the love of the outdoors ... Now looking back and reflecting on that, today we have 300 million people on the snow in China, that’s amazing. As long as I play even the smallest role in that, it makes me feel like I already met my goal."
Eileen Gu of China loses her ski during the women's freestyle skiing Big Air qualification round on Monday.
Eileen Gu of China loses her ski during the women's freestyle skiing Big Air qualification round on Monday. (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Gu, 18, said she doesn't believe in the concept of "you have to wait until you’re older to make a global impact."

Especially now, it’s a different generation, it’s our time to make change and to use our voice to speak out on topics that we find relevant to ourselves and personal to ourselves," she said.

When asked how she feels about her Olympic debut in China — her mother’s home country — Gu turned around and pulled up her race bib to show a golden dragon on the back of her black jacket.

“This is a piece of clothing I designed, with Chinese elements," she said.

1:01 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai again denies making sexual assault allegations in L'Equipe interview

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has again denied making sexual assault allegations against a retired senior Communist Party leader and revealed that returning to competition is "practically impossible" in an interview Sunday in Beijing with French sports newspaper L’Equipe.  

The interview —only the second she is known to have given to a foreign media outlet —was conducted on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics, where Peng is attending some of the events. She was accompanied by Wang Kan, the Chinese Olympic Committee chief of staff.

In the nearly hour-long interview, Peng reiterated:

"I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way," and said she herself had erased an explosive social media post from November, in which she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her into having sex during their years-long affair. 

Zhang has not issued any response to the accusation and has remained outside of public view.

Peng appeared to acknowledge the relationship in the interview, saying that “my love life problems, my personal life must not be mingled with sports and politics.”

When asked why she deleted the post on Chinese platform Weibo, she replied: "Because I wanted to."

Peng also told the French outlet, which published the interview in English, that her professional tennis career may be over.

"If you take my age (36 years old), my multiple surgeries and the pandemic which forced me to stop playing for so long, I think it'll be very hard for me to get back to the level I was physically speaking," Peng said.

Following the initial allegations, concern grew over her safety and whereabouts, which led the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) to suspend its tournaments in China.

IOC dinner: Peng told L'Equipe she had dinner with IOC President Thomas Bach in Beijing during the Olympics.

"We had dinner together on Saturday and we had a nice discussion and exchange. He asked me whether I am considering competing again, what my projects are, what I'm planning to do," she said. 

12:36 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Kamila Valieva helps ROC to gold in figure skating team event 

From CNN's Holden Perrelli 

ROC's Kamila Valieva performs in the women's free skating team event at Beijing's Capital Indoor Stadium on Monday.
ROC's Kamila Valieva performs in the women's free skating team event at Beijing's Capital Indoor Stadium on Monday. (Kazuki Wakasugi/Yomiuri Shimbun/AP)

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) figure skater Kamila Valieva became the first woman to land a quad at the Winter Olympics, securing a gold medal for herself and the ROC in the team event.

Valieva, 15, finished first in the women's free skating team event, giving the ROC figure skating team a maximum 10 points.

That meant the ROC had a winning total of 74 points from the combined events, which included pair skating, ice dance, and the men and women's single skate.

It's the ROC’s second gold of Beijing 2022 and its sixth medal overall.

The United States won silver with 65 points and Japan took bronze. 

What is the ROC? It stands for the Russian Olympic Committee, and it's essentially a loophole that allows Russian athletes to compete in the Olympics while their country is banned from the Games because of a doping scandal.

The team still bears the country's colors of white, blue and red, but instead of Russia's flag, the team's flag features its colors in an Olympic flame placed above the five Olympic rings. 

12:19 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Team USA figure skater Vincent Zhou tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Dan Moriarty in Beijing

Vincent Zhou of Team USA on the ice during the men's team free skate on Sunday.
Vincent Zhou of Team USA on the ice during the men's team free skate on Sunday. (Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

American figure skater Vincent Zhou has tested positive for Covid-19 and may not be able to compete in the men's short program on Tuesday, according to US Figure Skating.

“As part of yesterday's regular Covid-19 screening, Vincent Zhou tested positive. Under the guidance of the USOPC medical staff, Zhou is undergoing additional testing to confirm his status,” said Michael Terry, US Figure Skating communications director.
"If the results are negative, Zhou will be able to compete in the men’s short program, which begins Tuesday. At this time, we ask you respect his privacy as we await the results."

As per the rules of the Beijing 2022 Playbook, Zhou will need to test negative to compete in the men’s single skating short program, which begins Tuesday.

11:36 p.m. ET, February 6, 2022

Covid measures are strict inside Beijing's Olympic bubble. Outside, China just locked down another city

From CNN's Beijing Bureau and Philip Wang

China's strict and often cumbersome Covid protocols are designed to keep athletes, officials, journalists and volunteers safe inside the "closed loop system" of Beijing's Olympic bubble.

And outside the bubble, the Chinese government continues to impose harsh restrictions on citizens in a bid to pursue its zero-Covid strategy of managing the pandemic.

City locked down: On Monday, the southwestern city of Baise imposed a citywide lockdown, which requires 3.5 million residents to stay home.

All venues and businesses apart from essential services will be closed and public transport temporarily suspended. Residents are not allowed to leave their homes unless for grocery shopping or to take a Covid-19 test.  

The citywide lockdown came into effect after Baise identified 98 preliminary positive Covid-19 cases during mass testing on Sunday, according to statements by local authorities. The government said most of the cases are under review for confirmation.

The lockdown is the latest imposed by China on an entire city, an anti-epidemic tactic first employed during the original outbreak in Wuhan two years ago.

More recently, more than 20 million people were confined to their homes for weeks over December and January in several cities across the country, including the ancient capital of Xi'an.

It is unclear when the lockdown in Baise will end.

China's Covid cases: On Sunday, Baise confirmed 37 locally transmitted symptomatic cases, bringing the total number of infections from the outbreak to 44 symptomatic cases, according to the municipal government.

It comes as China reported 45 local symptomatic cases on Sunday, including the 37 from Baise, four in southern Guangdong province, three in Beijing and one in the northern city of Tianjin.

The country also reported 10 asymptomatic cases — which China counts separately —including five in northeastern Heilongjiang province and five in Guangxi, according to the National Health Commission.

Covid at the Olympics: The Beijing Olympic Committee on Sunday reported 10 new Games-related Covid-19 cases. Of those, four were detected among new airport arrivals and six were found inside the bubble. Six of the 10 cases involved athletes or team officials.

1:01 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

IOC refuses to comment on whether Peng Shuai has been speaking "under duress"

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie

Peng Shuai of China in action during her Women's Singles first round match against Nao Hibino of Japan in the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2020. 
Peng Shuai of China in action during her Women's Singles first round match against Nao Hibino of Japan in the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2020.  (Fred Lee/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) would not comment Monday on whether Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has been “speaking under duress” during recent interviews and meetings with IOC representatives. 

IOC director of communications Mark Adams said it was not up to the governing body to pass judgment on Peng's sexual assault allegation — which she has since recanted — or claims she has been “speaking under duress” in subsequent appearances. 

“I don’t think it’s a judgment for the IOC to make, we are a sporting organization and our job is to remain in contact with her and to carry out quiet diplomacy, to keep in touch with her as we’ve done, to meet her in person as we’ve done, and now invite her to Lausanne to see us,” Adams said in response to a question at an IOC and Beijing Organizing Committee media briefing.
“We as a sports organization are doing everything to ensure that she is happy and I don’t think it is up to us to be able to judge in one way, just as it’s not for you to judge either in one way or another, her position."

A three-time Olympian, Peng disappeared from public view for more than two weeks after she accused a former top Communist Party official of sexual assault in November last year. 

In December, Peng denied ever claiming she had been "sexually assaulted," saying her initial social media post describing the incident had been misunderstood.

Beijing has dismissed questions circulating around Peng's ongoing safety as "malicious speculation."

12:53 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Eileen Gu survives a fall to make the big air final as Chinese fans roar approval

From CNN's Nectar Gan in Beijing

Eileen Gu of Team China celebrates during the women's freestyle skiing freeski big air qualification on Monday.
Eileen Gu of Team China celebrates during the women's freestyle skiing freeski big air qualification on Monday. (Liu Lu/VCG/Getty Images)

China's teen skiing sensation Eileen Gu survived a scare in qualification to finish fifth and make it through to the finals of the women's freeski big air competition.

In her second of three jumps, Gu fell near the bottom of the slope, losing one of her skis.

Gu's Chinese name, Gu Ailing, is the top search topic on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform on Monday. Hashtags about her make up nine out of the top 50 trending topics, with total views in the hundreds of millions.

The crowd cheers after Eileen Gu's final run of qualifying.
The crowd cheers after Eileen Gu's final run of qualifying. CNN

Online, fans praised her ability to overcome the pressure from the failed second run after she delivered a firm landing on her third jump.

“Gu Ailing is so cool! I love her! She’s only 18 years old!!!” one fan said on Weibo.

Others posted screenshots of Gu blowing a kiss to the camera and raising her arms to form a heart shape after her third run. “How sweet of her to show a heart to the audience!” one commentator said.

The big air final on Tuesday will see Gu facing off against Canada's Meghan Oldham, who finished first in qualifying, and France's Tess Ledeux, who came second.

10:50 p.m. ET, February 6, 2022

China's UN ambassador pushes back after US counterpart says Games are not "business as usual"

From CNN’s Richard Roth in New York

Zhang Jun, permanent representative of China to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Sept. 23, 2021.
Zhang Jun, permanent representative of China to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Sept. 23, 2021. (John Minchillo/Pool/AP)

China’s ambassador to the United Nations has issued a strong response following comments about the Beijing Winter Olympics made by his US counterpart on CNN.

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Games are not “business as usual,” on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

It comes amid concerns over China's persecution of the Uyghurs and other human rights issues.

China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun released a statement Sunday to “resolutely refute the unfounded accusations against China.” Zhang said Thomas-Greenfield’s comments were “wrongful, irresponsible” in relation to issues including Beijing 2022, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

“Such groundless, politically-biased words have seriously poisoned the China-US relations,” Zhang said. “Facing such a smear campaign, China has no choice but to push back and clarify our position and reject the unfounded accusations by the US.”

Zhang said the US' "attempt to make an issue of the Olympic Games has won no support" and has been "met with complete failure."

"Athletes from China, the US and other countries are competing fairly at the Beijing Winter Olympics. They are the ones that should be in the spotlight, and the US politicians should have left the stage for them long ago!” Zhang said.

Here is my advice to the US: Do not go further down the wrong path. It will not only make your own people suffer, but also create more trouble for other countries and the whole world," Zhang said.