Beijing Olympics Will No Longer Sell Tickets to General Public, Only Select Groups Invited

The Winter Games are scheduled to kick off in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2022

Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games
Photo: VCG via Getty

Tickets for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will no longer be sold to the general public due to the recent surge of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, however, invited groups of spectators will be allowed at the Games.

On Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) updated its spectator policy announcing a new "adapted [program]" with only invited groups of spectators in attendance after following strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

The IOC originally announced in September that only spectators from mainland China would be able to purchase tickets for the Games while all international fans — including the families of the athletes — would be banned from attending in order to limit travel into the country.

The decision comes shortly after officials in Beijing reported their first case of the highly contagious Omicron variant on Saturday, prompting an immediate lockdown and mass COVID-19 testing, The New York Times reports.

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The new spectator policy isn't the only change that will have the Winter Games looking different from past years.

According to the playbook released by the IOC in October, all participants will be required to be tested for COVID-19 daily for the duration of the Games, regardless of vaccination status. Athletes will also be encouraged to wear masks and avoid crowded areas even if they are vaccinated, the playbook states.

Though the committee hasn't mandated vaccines in order to participate, the U.S. and Canada have made it a requirement for athletes.

A negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in China will also be required, and if not fully vaccinated, individuals will face a mandatory 21-day quarantine.

"We want everyone at the Games to be safe, that's why we're asking all participants to follow these guidelines," Christophe Dubi, executive director of the IOC, said in a statement at the time. "Keeping everyone healthy will ensure the focus remains on the very fundamentals of the Olympic and Paralympic Games — the athletes and the sport."

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Though the Games are still moving forward, IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today earlier this month that he is "worried."

"I don't think these things are postponable," he explained. "In almost every respect the arrow has left the bow. They're going to start Feb. 4 and it would take a real upset of some sort to change that."

At the Games, there will be 109 medal events with seven new events, including men's and women's big-air freestyle, women's monobob, mixed team competitions in freestyle skiing aerials, ski jumping and snowboard cross as well as mixed relay in short-track speedskating.

The 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony will air the morning of Feb. 4 in the U.S., as Beijing is 12 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone. The program will be available to watch on local NBC stations as well as NBC Sports and streaming on Peacock.

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, beginning this February, and the Winter Paralympics, beginning this March, on NBC.

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