Spectators for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic games will be limited to those who reside in China’s mainland, making the games a second straight that will have dramatically altered plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was conveyed by Beijing 2022 organizers at an International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board meeting, with hopes that it will “help deliver a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as scheduled.”
Officials had expressed hopes that international fans would be able to attend the games in 2022. The 2020 games were first postponed to 2021 by the pandemic, then saw international and eventually almost all spectators barred from entry due to the pandemic. “We would like to have the international community there,” Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. of the IOC coordination commission, told media in July. “We need a very successful games next year in Beijing. We really need that success for the sake of everybody… for keeping that light of hope really bright and open.”
Tickets have not yet gone on sale for Beijing 2022, and specific plans for the ticketing timeline have not yet been announced, despite the games being just over four months away. Beijing 2022 is scheduled to open on February 4 and run through February 20. The Paralympic games will be held from March 4-13.
Despite the setback, officials took a positive tone regarding the plans for still being able to sell tickets and allow spectators from mainland China, which has well over a billion residents and is the most populous country in the world.
“The IOC and IPC welcome the decision to allow for the sale of tickets to spectators residing in China’s mainland,” the IOC said in a press release announcing the decision. “This will facilitate the growth of winter sports in China by giving those spectators a first-hand Olympic and Paralympic experience of elite winter sports, as well as bringing a favourable atmosphere to the venues. However, 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.”
Specific testing plans and ticketing arrangements will be announced at a later date. Organizers are planning a “closed-loop” management system for all participants in the games themselves, with non-fully vaccinated athletes and coaches required to arrive early enough to endure a mandatory 21-day quarantine upon their arrival.