“It looks like another planet”: why the World Cup has aroused frustration among the Chinese while they live a new record of covid cases in their country



Chinese state media are paying enormous attention to the World Cup as the matches fuel the frustration of the country’s people left out of the celebrations.

In addition to the Chinese men’s national team failing to qualify for the event, scenes of maskless partying and large gatherings in Qatar have irritated spectators, who have been discouraged from gathering to watch the games.

Many have taken advantage of the World Cup to complain on the internet about the existing strategies in China against the covid. The country maintains a “zero-covid” policy, in which entire communities are locked up for isolated cases of the virus, in order to prevent its spread.

China has registered this week the highest number of daily cases of covid since the pandemic began, despite strict measures. Several major cities, including the capital Beijing and the southern commercial epicenter Guangzhou, are experiencing outbreaks.

On Wednesday of this week, 31,527 cases were registered, compared to a maximum of 28,000 in April. However, the figures are still tiny for a country of 1.4 billion inhabitants.

A few people watch the opening ceremony of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup in Shanghai, China.

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In the face of new covid outbreaks, the government has discouraged fans from gathering to watch matches.

symbolic presence

Soccer is very popular in China. President Xi Jinping is known to be a fan of the sport and has spoken that it is a dream for the country to win the World Cup.

For this reason, the matches are broadcast on the national network CCTV and the state media have tried to amplify the “presence” of China.

The Global Times has reported how products made in China, “from the buses to the stadium [Lusail]and even air conditioners, are well represented at the event.”

Major media outlets such as CCTV have also promoted the presence of Chinese flag bearers at the opening ceremony, noting how two giant pandas came to Qatar to “meet” visitors to the event.

Chinese President Xi Jinping kicks a soccer ball during his visit to Croke Park in Dublin on February 19, 2012.

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President Xi Jinping is known to be a football lover. Here he is seen kicking the ball during a visit to Dublin in 2012.

But it is evident that the covid-19 has slowed down the celebrations. In major cities, the outbreaks have caused non-essential businesses to close again and people have been urged to limit their movement.

With no bars to go to, the Global Times newspaper says some fans are “choosing to watch games at home with their families.” Others have reportedly preferred to go camping.

Flights between Qatar and China remain very limited for those hoping to see the event in person.

Posters of Son Heung-min, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk are seen at a restaurant on November 20, 2022 in Shanghai, China.

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Venues in Shanghai have been prepared to welcome fans but are empty due to virus restrictions.

a divided world

Many are feeling acute isolation watching this year’s World Cup.

An open letter questioning the country’s “zero covid” policy and wondering if China was “on the same planet” as Qatar was broadcast on the mobile messaging service WeChat on Tuesday, before being censored.

The Twitter-like social network Weibo abounds with comments from viewers talking about how watching this year’s games makes them feel separate from the rest of the world.

Some share his perception that it is “rare” to see hundreds of thousands of people gathered, without wearing masks nor have to show a recent covid-19 test.

“There are no separate seats so that people can maintain social distance and there is no one dressed in white and blue [médico] aside. This planet has divided a lot.”

“On one side, there is the carnival that is the World Cup, on the other are the rules for not visiting public places for five days,” said another.

More than one assured that they have had difficulties explaining to their children why the scenes of the World Cup are so different from those that people face in their country.

There are many in China who have criticized the opening of countries abroad while the World Health Organization continues to rate the Covid-19 virus of “acute global emergency”.

So far, there is no end in sight to the existing measures in China. This week, the spokesman for the National Health Commission “warned against any relaxation in epidemic prevention and control” and He urged “more resolute and decisive measures” to be taken to control the cases.

Local governments in major cities have reintroduced mass testing and travel restrictions, ultimately delivering the stay-at-home message.

But after three years of these measures, people are frustratedwhich has sparked protests in the last month in the cities of Guangzhou and Zhengzhou.

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