China won't sell Olympic tickets to the general public, citing COVID-19 concerns
The country has been tightening COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the games set to begin the first week of February
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The Beijing Winter Olympic Games that start next month announced Monday they will not be selling tickets to the general public due to COVID-19 concerns.
Initially, individuals living on mainland China were the only people allowed to purchase tickets for the event, but the Organizing Committee for the games has now revoked that plan, citing "the current grave and complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic."
In a statement Monday, the committee wrote the new policy is being put in effect to "ensure the safety of all participants and spectators."
Instead of being able to purchase tickets, select members of the general public will be invited by the committee to attend the games in person. Those individuals will have to "strictly abide" by COVID protocols "as pre-conditions for the safe and sound delivery of the Games."
The announcement arrives following the tightening by the Chinese government of COVID restrictions in Beijing and cities close to Beijing, in which a number of virus cases have been detected in recent days. China, however, insists its outbreak is nowhere near as bad as other countries grappling with the Omicron variant.
China also has banned commuter flights with layovers and will begin testing all children who attend international schools.
The Winter Olympic Games are scheduled to begin Feb. 4 and run through Feb. 20. The U.S. and several allies will not be sending diplomats to the Games in protest of the country's alleged crimes against humanity involving Uighar minority Muslims and other human rights abuses.