Beijing Olympics will allow some in-person fans, but only from mainland China


Beijing Olympic organizers are planning to allow spectators in at least some events at the 2020 Winter Games, but tickets will be sold only to residents of mainland China, the IOC announced Wednesday.

China had been expected to allow fans at the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics, something Tokyo officials did not permit at this summer's Games, citing concerns over rising coronavirus infections in a country with low vaccination rates. The announcement did not offer specifics about which events would have fans, saying that details remain under discussion.

The announcement also offered some details about Beijing Olympic organizers' plan to create a bubble that it called a "closed loop management." In this plan, anyone arriving at the Olympics - including athletes and coaches - will enter the bubble at the airport and be confined to a system of hotels, villages, training centers and competition venues fed by buses and trains dedicated only to the Olympics.

While no one will be able to leave the closed loop management, they will be allowed to move freely inside. Tokyo organizers had a looser bubble that permitted many non-athletes affiliated with the Games to travel openly around the city after being on-site for 14 days. Athletes, however, had strict limitations that kept them isolated from most other competitors and confined them to short stays in the Athletes Village. Beijing's plan appears to let them stay in the village and socialize as they would at any other Olympics - with the stipulation that they don't leave the bubble.

Everyone inside Beijing's closed loop management will be tested daily, the announcement said.

Beijing organizers are placing a heavy emphasis on vaccinations. Wednesday's announcement said any unvaccinated athlete will be forced to quarantine for 21 days upon arrival, though anyone with what the IOC called "a justified medical exception" will be able to have that exception considered.

Last week, the USOPC announced it will require all of its athletes at the winter Games to be vaccinated.

The Olympics start Feb. 4 and the Paralympics on March 4.

Beijing organizers will announce more details in a guide called a "Playbook" that is scheduled be released in late October. Another playbook is scheduled for December.