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Beijing Olympics ban foreign spectators and adds 21-day quarantine for unvaccinated participants

It's been less than two months since the Tokyo Olympics concluded but preparation for the next pandemic-era Olympic Games is already underway. The International Olympics Committee announced Wednesday new COVID-19 guidelines for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, including vaccine protocols for athletes and a ban on foreign spectators.

Under the guidelines, all athletes and participants who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to spend 21 days in quarantine when they arrive in Beijing. Athletes can submit a medical exemption for Games officials to consider, the committee said.

Those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to immediately enter the "closed-loop management system" — which will "cover all Games-related areas, including arrival and departure, transport, accommodation, catering, competitions, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies," the committee said. "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."

Those who are not staying in the Olympic Village will "reside in Beijing 2022-contracted hotels that will be compliant with the COVID-19 countermeasures for the Games." 

Additionally, the committee said all participants and people in the "closed-loop management system" will be tested for COVID-19 daily, regardless of vaccination status.

Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games
The Emblem of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games on August 1, 2021. VCG/VCG via Getty

Only spectators from mainland China who meet "the requirements of the COVID-19 countermeasures" will be allowed into the Games. Specific countermeasures and ticketing arrangements are still being finalized, the committee said.

"The IOC and IPC welcome the decision to allow for the sale of tickets to spectators residing in China's mainland," the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee wrote in a press release Wednesday. "This will facilitate the growth of winter sports in China by giving those spectators a first-hand Olympic and Paralympic experience of elite winter sports, as well as bringing a favorable atmosphere to the venues.  However, all parties feel for the athletes and the spectators from around the world, knowing that the restriction on spectators from outside mainland China had to be put in place in order to ensure the safe holding of the Games this winter."

The guidelines were established after the IOC and the IPC met Wednesday and heard from Beijing 2022 officials as well as local Chinese authorities about how to successfully host the Games. More information about the COVID guidelines will be released in October, the committee said.

The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 4, while the Paralympic Winter Games will begin on March 4.

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