iJET Releases Beijing Olympics Travel Brief

Before you sprint to the finish line at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, review these potential travel risks and recommendations.


If you’re venturing abroad to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics, you are one lucky duck. But travelers to the Chinese capital should still take heed, says a May 2008 report by iJET, a global intelligence business service that identifies and monitors security risks for international travelers.

While Chinese officials claim the devastating May 12, 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan province did not damage Olympic structures in Beijing—almost 1,000 miles northeast of the quake epicenter—the iJET brief addresses other concerns, in areas including transportation, health, crime, safety and visa documentation.

Some of the findings are expected with any mega international event: major delays at Nanyuan and Capital Airports, packed flights and luggage limits—domestic flight passengers are restricted to one carry-on item of no more than 11 lbs.

A Greener Beijing?

But the Chinese government will also make several infrastructural changes, such as significant road closures to alleviate traffic, in anticipation of the influx of visitors during the Summer Games. To mitigate air pollution in Beijing—a city consistently rated as having some of the worst pollution in the world—Chinese officials will suspend major industry operations during June and July, and will limit vehicles allowed on the road on a given day. According to the official 2008 Beijing Olympics Web site, the city has spent $16 billion undertaking a massive “greening” project for the Games; the clean-up includes relocating polluting factories, establishing green parks, relying more on wind and solar energy sources, and establishing more subway lines.

Visas, Permits and Passports

The iJET brief also addresses travel documentation protocol. Foreigners should apply for visas as early as possible in their home country embassy—not in Hong Kong. For U.S. citizens, the application fee is $130. It takes four business days for processing your visa, and one-day processing costs an additional $30 if you’re in a rush. Visas are good for no longer than 30 days, and visitors cannot reapply for reentry. Foreign residents living in China must also apply for residency permits, without which they may face arrest. Additionally, all short-term visitors must register at local police stations, and travelers should keep their passports with them at all times.

Crime and Health

Petty crime is expected, but could increase during the Games, says iJET. And while terrorism doesn’t pose a serious threat, the brief says “bombings, shootings, hijackings, kidnappings and sabotage remain possible.” Also, French-sympathists beware—the Paris protests during the Olympic Torch Relay sparked the ire of Chinese nationalists; iJET cautions westerners that they could face harassment.

As for staying healthy during your travels, iJET recommends only drinking bottled water, and eating cooked, hot food. But the main health concern is something travelers may not have much control over: the air. “Smog in Beijing could exacerbate heart or lung diseases,” says the report. A March 17, 2008 data analysis report by the International Olympic Committee did concede that high endurance atheletes—such as cyclists or marathoners—may be at some risk for pollution-related health problems. But the majority of athletes and visitors should be unaffected. 

Other Important Advice

Besides the words of caution from iJET’s report, here’s some additional advice for Beijing travelers:

  • Carry the Chinese character-written name of your hotel and address as most taxi drivers can’t speak English.
  • Keep these emergency numbers handy: Police—110; First Aid—120; Fire—119.
  • Suggested vaccinations for long-term travelers (more than 30 days): Japanese encephalitis, rabies, Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and routine shots—including tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox.

Download the PDF Beijing travel brief at For more information about the Beijing Summer Olympics, go to

Destinations: Beijing

Themes: Family Travel

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