AUSTIN (KXAN) — An overseas trip to cover the Winter Olympics in Beijing is quickly approaching for one of KXAN’s reporters since the Games begin in a little more than a week.
The team of Nexstar journalists traveling to China for weeks-long coverage of the world’s largest winter sporting event includes Jala Washington. This will be her first time covering the Olympics.
Washington joined KXAN Live’s Will DuPree Tuesday morning to talk about her remaining preparations for the trip, what she’s looking forward to most and how COVID-19 safety protocols will work for her and the other members of the media.
“It has been a wild ride already,” Washington said. “We’re trying to tie up loose ends. There’s a lot of pre-production we’ve had to do just because once we get over there, we’re going to be somewhat restricted.”
Her travels will begin Thursday when she first flies to Los Angeles to spend a couple of days with the Nexstar team. They’ll then hop onto a charter flight to China and get tested for COVID-19 during a layover there before reaching their final destination in Beijing.
“We’ve got to have a few negative COVID tests,” Washington explained. “I get my first test tomorrow here in Austin, and then from there, once I’m in L.A., I’ll get another test. Like I said, we’ll get that final COVID test once we actually land over there in China and hopefully do our jobs from there and be safe and healthy.”
Ahead of the Olympics starting, residents in Beijing are coping with abrupt local lockdowns and sweeping COVID-19 testing requirements, as the Chinese capital seeks to prevent a coronavirus outbreak. The lockdowns are part of China’s “zero tolerance” measures to fight the pandemic that have been ratcheted up ahead of the Games. Those now include requiring tests for anyone who purchases medications to treat cold, cough, fever and other illnesses.
Washington said she and the Nexstar team are preparing for protocols to potentially change once they’re in Beijing based on whatever the current coronavirus conditions are.
“We’re going to be in a closed loop system, so it’s basically just going to be a bubble,” she said. “We are not going to be able to leave that bubble the entire time that we’re there. We’re not even sure what kind of access we’re going to get to the athletes while we’re there, which is why it was so important for us to interview those athletes we’re following up front.”
People can also watch a special about the Beijing Olympics featuring the Nexstar reporters online now.
Washington will share her reporting and other adventures covering the Olympics on social media. To keep up with her experience in China, give her a follow on Instagram and on Twitter for the latest updates.