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Winter Games Won't Have Foreign Fans

Beijing athletes will live and compete in a bubble
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2021 5:07 PM CDT
Beijing's Winter Games Will Be in a Bubble
Participants pose for a group photo after a launch ceremony for the Winter Games' motto on Sept. 17 in Beijing. The Winter Olympics are scheduled to open Feb. 4.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

(Newser) – The International Olympic Committee has revealed the first of its planned measures against COVID-19 at the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing, and they're at least as restrictive as the rules were for the summer competition. Again, the prohibition against foreign spectators will apply to athletes' friends and relatives, USA Today reports. Some fans from China will be able to attend events, however, as long as they follow the rules. "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," the International Paralympic Committee and the IOC said in a statement after a meeting Wednesday, "as well as bringing a favorable atmosphere to the venues."

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As they were for the Tokyo games this year, athletes will be kept in something of a bubble, which is being called a "closed-loop management system" that will open Jan. 23. They'll move about in a dedicated transportation system. There won't be a vaccine mandate, which was true of the Summer Games, but this time anyone not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to quarantine for 21 days before competing, per the Guardian. Athletes can apply for a "justified medical exemption" to avoid having to quarantine, per the AP. Participants and workers will be tested daily.

The committees expressed sympathy for athletes and affected fans over the attendance restrictions but said they're necessary to "ensure the safe holding of the Games." More coronavirus rules will be published next month. The 16-day Olympics are scheduled to begin Feb. 4, while the Paralympic Winter Games are planned for March 4-13. (Brisbane promises its 2032 Summer Olympics will be a sustainable event.)

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