Winter Olympics tickets not on general sales as Beijing logs first Omicron case

Tickets for the coming Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will not be sold to the general public due to the “severe and complex situation of COVID”, as announced by Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on 17 January. The tickets, instead, will be distributed to “target” groups, to be more specific, people residing in China’s mainland, who meet the requirements of the COVID-19 countermeasures, the organiser acknowledged.

The initial announcement on the ticket sale policy was made as early as last September, giving people significant warning time in regard to the events. But the authority has re-confirmed the decision just days after the main host city Beijing for the international event reported its first locally transmitted case of the Omicron, which is the latest found COVID variant that is believed to be more infectious than previous variants.

This has naturally stretched the nerve of the authority in an already pressured situation, when the country’s COVID cases are on the rise in the run-up to the Games, which is due to start on 4 February.

The sports event has coincided with the Chinese New Year celebration, which falls on 1 February this year. During this festive period, there is also the world’s largest annual human migration, or chunyun, which just kicked off on 17 January and is expected to last until 25 February.

Despite the government’s call coupled with rigorous travelling restrictions since the start of the pandemic,  the country’s large population will be travelling around the country during the 40-day period. This is due to the festival as people head home for family reunions, which will undoubtedly put the country at a higher risk of spreading the virus, causing issues to all areas of life and the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Village, an accommodation centre built in the host city of Beijing for athletes and media staff, is now put under a so-called “closed-loop” management from 18 January, as per the Chinese media outlet The Paper.

This means designated services will be employed throughout the stay of overseas visitors in China, which includes designated coaches for airport pickups and accommodation. Once checked in, all activities could only be carried out within the Village. It is understood that the Village will pre-open on 23 January, welcoming visitors from all over the world at a phased pace.

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