With the 2022 Winter Olympics just two weeks away, China announced Monday that tickets for the Games will not be sold to the general public due to COVID-19. Tickets will, however, be distributed by authorities, the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee said.
“In terms of the grim and complex situation of epidemic prevention and control [and] in order to protect the health and safety of Olympic personnel and spectators, we have decided to change the original plan of public ticket sales,” the committee said, as reported by CNN.
During the events that begin early next month, spectators will be invited on-site, but must “strictly comply with COVID-19 prevention and control requirements before, during and after watching the Games.”
The International Olympic Committee said the change in ticketing was made “in order to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators.”
“Given the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators, it has been decided that tickets should not be sold anymore but be part of an adapted programme that will invite groups of spectators to be present on site during the Games,” the committee wrote in a statement. “The organisers expect that these spectators will strictly abide by the COVID-19 countermeasures before, during and after each event so as to help create an absolutely safe environment for the athletes.”
The IOC said there will be no spectators from outside China’s mainland.
The Beijing Olympics will begin on February 4, followed by the Paralympic Games on March 4.
Participants who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to enter the Games without first entering quarantine, whereas participants who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 21 days after arriving in Beijing.
The United States has required all team members to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
If a participant contracts COVID-19 during the Games, they will not be allowed to compete or continue their role in the tournament. Symptomatic participants will be taken to a hospital and asymptomatic participants will be transported to an isolation facility, CNN reported.
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee has been advising American athletes to leave their personal phones behind and instead use temporary “burner” phones to avoid being spied on when they go to Beijing.
The advice to athletes was reportedly shared in an advisory document in September and then a bulletin in December. The bulletin reportedly advised athletes that their “every device, communication, transaction and online activity may be monitored.”
“Your device(s) may also be compromised with malicious software, which could negatively impact future use,” the bulletin added.