- A robotic bartender will serve cocktails at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics’ media center.
- The bot can shake and serve drinks in around 90 seconds, according to the South China Morning Post.
- Organizers are aiming to minimize the number of COVID-19 cases within the games’ “closed loop.”
For journalists looking to wind down after a long day’s coverage at this year’s winter Olympics, a different kind of snowball could await them at the games’ media center.
Organizers of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games have equipped the media center with a robot bartender, which can mix and serve cocktails in around 90 seconds, according to the South China Morning Post. Guests can order their drink by scanning a code on their phone, the Post added.
The installation comes amid organizers’ efforts to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 at the games. In addition to the robotic bartender, a restaurant catering to athletes and those working at the games will also be operated by machines, according to the Post.
The robot barkeep — which serves both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails — sits behind a circular bar and below dozens of bottles suspended from the ceiling, according to a video from Reuters. In the video, the robot is shown filling a cocktail shaker from one of the overhead bottles, adding ice, then mixing the contents before straining the green liquid into a margarita-style cocktail glass.
The bar will also be staffed by a number of human bartenders to supervise the bot’s work and lend a hand.
Meanwhile, the restaurant, which is open only to people working at the Olympics, will serve food such as burgers and rice, that are prepared and served by machines, per the Post. Using tracks running along the ceiling, orders are lifted straight from the automated kitchen and lowered direct to tables.
China has operated a strict “zero Covid” policy since the start of the pandemic, aiming to keep cases at bay through frequent local lockdowns, border closures and quarantine rules for international arrivals. It has adopted a similar approach to the games.
Athletes, media personnel and Olympics staff will operate within a “closed-loop” system, meaning they will be isolated from the general domestic population. International visitors have been barred from attending the games as spectators.
Athletes and staff are obliged to present a negative test before boarding any flights bound for the games, again upon arrival at the airport, and a third time before entering the closed loop, according to the International Olympic Committee.
Speaking at a remote technical briefing earlier in the week, Dr. Brian McCloskey, chair of Beijing 2022’s medical expert panel said the “three layers of testing” aimed to filter out any potential positive cases at every stage, and minimize the number of infections that get into the closed loop.
“The target is zero spread within the closed loop, and the closed loop is there because that’s what protects the people of China by keeping the domestic population separate from the participants coming in from around the world,” Dr. McCloskey said.
Athletes and staff will also be subject to regular PCR tests for the duration of the games, which will take place between February 4 and 20.
According to the International Olympic Committee, pre-Games testing has demonstrated that the system in place is “operating successfully.” As of January 23, out of 2,586 tests conducted at Beijing airport since January 4, only 39 have reported a positive result. Within the closed loop, 33 positive results out of 336,421 tests have been reported.