Olympics: China will not sell tickets to public at 2022 Olympic Games

·2 min read

China will not permit ticket sales to any individuals at the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, a move Olympic officials say is designed to prevent COVID-19 spread within the country. The decision, which comes weeks before thousands of international athletes and officials are slated to arrive in China for the Olympics, is a sharp departure from previous plans to allow Chinese citizens into the events.

Chinese Olympic officials had decided in September that no international visitors would be permitted to purchase tickets to the Games. On Monday they expanded that order to include Chinese residents. However, organizers left the door open for an "adapted program that will invite groups of spectators to be present on site during the Games." These groups will be vetted before, during and after the events for adherence to COVID protocols, Games officials said in a statement.

China is pursuing a zero-COVID strategy that calls for extensive testing, contact tracing, so-called "snap lockdowns" and quarantines in an attempt to halt, rather than mitigate, the spread of the disease. A single Omicron case forced the lockdown of an entire office building in Beijing over the weekend, according to a CNN report. Other cities across the county are in various states of lockdown after the detection of positive tests.

The Tokyo Olympics, held in August 2021, did not permit spectators, and the difference in ambience and atmosphere was noticeable in the arenas and on broadcasts.

The Olympics are scheduled to begin Feb. 4 and run through Feb. 20. The Paralympics are slated to begin shortly afterward, on Mar. 4.

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 16:  A general view the Beijing Olympic Tower on January 16, 2022 in Beijing, China. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are set to open February 4th.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 16: A general view the Beijing Olympic Tower on January 16, 2022 in Beijing, China. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are set to open February 4th. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.