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Winter Olympics tickets will not be sold as China seeks to contain Covid | Winter Olympics 2022

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Tickets for the Beijing Winter Olympics will not be sold to the general public, but distributed to “targeted” groups, organizers have said, as part of China’s latest bid to control the spread of the highly infectious variant from Omicron Covid.

Beijing reported its first locally transmitted case of Omicron over the weekend, putting renewed pressure on authorities ahead of the Games, which are due to start on Feb. 4 and coincide with the week of Lunar New Year celebrations. usually the greatest travel time of the year.

Winter Olympics organizers previously said the Games would be kept on a “closed loop”, meaning only a limited number of spectators would be allowed at the venues. Foreign spectators will not be allowed to enter the country and staff involved in the Games will have to avoid contact with people outside the loop.

On Monday, organizers cited the “serious and complex” Covid-19 situation and the need to protect the safety of Olympics staff and spectators in an announcement.

“In order to protect the health and safety of Olympics-related staff and spectators, it has been decided to adjust the initial plan for selling tickets to the public and [instead] organize spectators to watch the Games on site,” they said.

Local spectators who receive tickets must adhere to strict Covid prevention measures before, during and after attending Olympic events, the organizing committee said, without giving further details or specifying how the tickets would be distributed.

China’s attempts to enforce its “zero-Covid” containment policy are threatened by the Omicron variant.

Authorities on Monday urged citizens not to order goods from overseas, after claiming that a recent Omicron infection detected in Beijing came from an international package sent from Canada. China has claimed that many Covid infections throughout the pandemic have come from imported products – often cold chain items – but experts say the scientific basis for such claims is weak.

Last month, the North American National Hockey League said its players would not be taking part in the Beijing Winter Olympics due to Covid disruptions to the league schedule.

The latest information on the first case of Omicron in Beijing came hours before President Xi Jinping promised to introduce the world to “Streamlined, Safe and Splendid Games” in his keynote speech at the Davos Economic Forum.

Chinese health authorities on Monday reported 223 cases from the past 24 hours to midnight, including 163 local transmissions. The majority were in Tianjin, where the first case of Omicron in mainland China was identified on December 9.

Authorities said 79 of its 80 cases in Tianjin were found in Jinnan County and 68 in Henan Province, including 60 in the closed city of Anyang. A case reported in the southern city of Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, has been confirmed to be Omicron.

Additional Reuters reports

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