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Beijing Winter Olympics

Beijing Olympic villages open to COVID bubble, muted social media

Countries worry China could access and extract data from personal devices

An athletes village in Beijing. China aims to keep Olympics-related personnel separate from the public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Asuka Hata)

DALIAN, China/BEIJING -- The athletes villages for the Beijing Winter Olympics officially opened their doors on Thursday, though the third-year pandemic and athletes' caution over using smartphones in a country with tight information controls seem to have cast a pall over the festivities.

The three villages -- two in Beijing and one in the neighboring city of Zhangjiakou -- will house thousands of athletes and team officials throughout the games, which officially begin Feb. 4. Flags of participating countries and regions fluttered over one of the villages in Beijing on Thursday as security personnel and volunteers bustled about, though few athletes appear to have moved in so far.

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