Organizers of next month’s Beijing Olympics said Monday that only select “groups of spectators” will be invited to watch the Winter Games in person, a move that further restricts attendance at the event.
“Given the current grave and complicated situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators, it was decided that tickets should not be sold anymore but be part of an adapted programme that will invite groups of spectators to be present on site during the Games,” according to a press release today on the official Beijing Organising Committee site.
“Organisers expect that these spectators will strictly abide by the Covid-19 countermeasures before, during and after each event as pre-conditions for the safe and sound delivery of the Games.”
Beijing had already restricted ticket sales for the Games to exclude any spectators outside mainland China but had never made tickets available to purchase. It’s unclear who would be eligible to be invited under the new policy, which comes as the country is working to control outbreaks of Covid.
No spectators were allowed into any venues in Tokyo during the Olympic Games there last summer because of concerns over the global pandemic.
The U.S. is already not sending diplomats to the China-set games, joining other countries in a boycott over the nation’s human rights policies. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing recently called China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, and other human rights abuses.”
The Beijing Games are set for February 4-20 and will air in the U.S. on NBC and its sister networks including NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.