Saturday, January 8, 2022

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics: THE UNKNOWN AND THE STRESS!

"Are you going to the Winter Olympics in Beijing?"

Over the last couple of weeks I have received countless emails, IMs, text messages, social media comments, and phone calls asking this question.

This Olympics has proven to be way more complicated than Tokyo (which we thought would be the most difficult ever). As I mentioned in a previous blog post, China has cancelled all flights into the country. It wasn't until recently that I found out that I can use my Olympic credentials to get a special charter flight to Beijing. They are limiting incoming flights to select charter flights from cities like Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo, and only for Olympic athletes and staff. I was sent a couple of documents to help me with my search. One had a list of people in Beijing who are acting as "flight support attache" and another with specific contacts at certain airlines who will try to help us out. A couple of days ago I reached out to the flight attache people but that got me nowhere.

At the same time I sent emails to many of those airline contacts to see if they can help me get where I need to go and when I need to be there. The European carriers would require me to fly to Europe and then to China. That would double or triple the travel time and definitely not work for me. The Asian carriers are my best bet and I have been spending late nights communicating with them in their time zones. So far Japan Airlines has been the best at communicating, and I have the highest hopes to fly with them. Air China got back to me but the price for a round trip on the 3 hour flight from Tokyo to Beijing was $1700. What the heck? Add that to the flight from San Francisco to Tokyo and that gets really expensive!

Normally I have my flights, accommodations, contract and everything else complete about one year in advance. We are now 3 weeks from the Winter Olympics and I have nothing yet. And from what I am hearing, most media are in the same boat right now. It is craziness!

In parallel with my flight researching, I am also investigating my accommodation options in Beijing, and a little nervous about booking this at the last minute. But I have no choice and will deal with that once I can confirm that I can get to the Games.

At this point I am making the assumption that I will work all this out and get to the Olympics and lining up the clothing and gear I would need. I have already talked to Canon and they are going to hook me up with the Canon R3 cameras I need. Apple is going to get me the screaming fast new 16" MacBook Pro with the M1 Max processor.  This time I am photographing primarily for USA Hockey and the deadlines are even tighter than the Summer Olympics. I will have the new computer on the ice with me, and I will be downloading, retouching and posting from the dasher boards. Crazy, but true. Speed is even more important this time around. There is no time to go to the press room at the venue since the break between periods is 15 minutes.

Oh...and let's not forget the Covid testing requirements. They are going to require a whole bunch of negative Covid tests before we head to the Olympics, and a negative test once we get there. With this Omicron variant covering the world, this makes me nervous too! I did get confirmation that once we are in China, we will be tested everyday with swabs in our mouth. This seriously beats the anal swabs that were initially proposed!

Is all this a little stressful? Heck yeah!

I should know more details by early next week. Stay tuned!


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Gene Bowker said...

Mouth swab does sound much better than the other alternative.

I really hope it all works out as I'm used to getting the awesome "behind the scenes" coverage from the photographer angle that you provide.

mako said...

“Retouching” ?! I thought there is no manipulation allowed in Photojournalism?

mako said...

“Retouch” … so you aren’t shooting as a photojournalist?

Kathy said...

US Hockey will not assist with flights?

Cpowell said...

I have taken 20 tests and the nose swap is on the edge of your nose now. It is just a tickle.

Linda Allen said...

Best of Luck Jeff! Hopefully everything will line up in this coming week.

Unknown said...

USA Hockey isn't helping you get there??

JCusack said...

Fingers crossed, positive energy everyday . I so admire your mental strength in dealing with this crazy unknown . If it is possible you are the one who will make it happen . Wishing you all the best friend 😊

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Mako - When I say "retouching" I a referring to adjustments in exposure, shadows, highlights and white balance. Maybe some cropping too. No cloning or changing of the image.