Foreign spectators won’t be able to attend Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics events

Oct 1, 2021

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You can scratch attending next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing off your travel calendar.

The International Olympic Committee just announced that no foreign spectators will be allowed to attend any events at the Winter Games (which begin 4 February) or the Paralympic Games, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Chinese residents, however, will be able to attend events. While obviously disappointing to fans who dreamed of attending the Games, Olympic organizing officials say limiting access is the best way to maintain the highest level of safety for the athletes as the pandemic continues.

“All parties feel for the athletes and the spectators from around the world, knowing that the restriction on spectators from outside mainland China had to be put in place in order to ensure the safe holding of the Games this winter,” IOC officials said in a statement.

This means there will be no foreign spectators at an Olympics since 2018 — and Paris 2024 could also eventually be impacted by the pandemic.

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Starting on 23 January and continuing until the end of the Paralympics on 13 March, all athletes and coaches will enter a closed-loop management system to guard against potential exposure to COVID-19 and to ensure what the IOC calls “safe delivery of the Games.”

Once people enter the closed-loop system, they will only be allowed to move between Games-related venues for training, competitions and work, until the end of the Games. A transit system exclusively for the Olympics will be put in place.

The audience restrictions mirror what occurred during the recent Summer Olympics in Japan, and in some ways may be even more constrained than the Tokyo Games were. The Games in China will keep stringent COVID-19 requirements in place, including requiring all athletes and Games participants to be fully vaccinated before entering the closed-loop system. They will also be subject to daily COVID-19 testing. Games participants who are not fully vaccinated must complete a 21-day quarantine that begins when they arrive in Beijing. Organizers will consider cases of athletes who can provide a justified medical exemption for not being vaccinated.

Tickets to events at the Winter Games will only be sold to spectators who live on China’s mainland. Local residents must also meet the requirements of the COVD-19 protocols. The exact COVID-19 requirements for Chinese locals and ticket arrangements are still being worked out and will likely be finalized by November.

Competing athletes will remain at the Olympic Village during their time in Beijing, while all others related to the delegations of the participating nations will stay in hotels the Olympic organizers have contracted that will comply with the Games’ COVID-19 countermeasures.

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics begin on 4 February and continue until 20 February. The Paralympic Winter Games will run from 4 March to 13 March.

Featured photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

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