Beijing Olympics will allow spectators, IOC says

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People take pictures in front of the Birds Nest stadium, the venue for opening and closing ceremonies for the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing. (AFP via Getty Images - image credit)
People take pictures in front of the Birds Nest stadium, the venue for opening and closing ceremonies for the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing. (AFP via Getty Images - image credit)

After an unprecedented Olympics of empty stands in Tokyo this summer, spectators will return for the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

People from mainland China will be allowed to attend both the Winter Games and the Paralympic Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday.

"Tickets will be sold exclusively to spectators residing in China's mainland, who meet the requirements of the COVID-19 countermeasures," the IOC said in a release.

It said those specific countermeasures for spectators and details of ticketing arrangements are still being determined.

The IOC also announced restrictions for athletes, support staff and other attendees at the Games, including a "closed-loop" system that will effectively serve as a bubble, as used by other sports organizations during the pandemic.

"All athletes and Games participants who are fully vaccinated will enter the closed-loop management system upon arrival. Games participants who are not fully vaccinated will have to serve a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in Beijing," the news release said.

From Jan. 23 until the close of the Paralympics, the closed-loop scenario will be in place — covering all Games-related areas including arrival and departure, transport, accommodation, catering, competitions, and both the opening and closing ceremonies.

"Within the closed loop, participants will be allowed to move only between Games-related venues for training, competitions and work. A dedicated Games transport system will be put in place," the IOC said.

Daily testing

All participants travelling to the Winter Games will stay in Beijing 2022-contracted hotels that are compliant with the COVID-19 countermeasures. Athletes and some delegation officials who are accompanying athletes will be staying in the Olympic Village.

Much like the Tokyo 2020 requirements, all domestic and international Games participants and staff will be subjected to daily testing.

David Shoemaker, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said his organization is in the process of determining whether vaccines will be a requirement for Canadian athletes competing in Beijing.

"Our decision will be guided by our chief medical officer, other medical leads, and consultation with our Athletes Commission," he told CBC Sports.

"Safety is always a priority for Team Canada. We recently brought 840 athletes and staff to and from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics without a single positive case. We aspire to have similar results at the Winter Games."

The COC said more than 95 per cent of the 371 Canadian Olympic athletes were vaccinated at Tokyo 2020.

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