BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese social media users expressed disappointment on Tuesday after Winter Olympics organisers said they would not sell tickets to the public, while some who have been invited expressed frustration over COVID-19 prevention requirements.
Beijing organisers announced late on Monday that tickets would be allotted to “targeted” groups of people, who would be required to undertake strict COVID-19 prevention measures before, during and after attending Olympic events.
Two employees at state-owned enterprises told Reuters that they were among those who had been previously told they will receive tickets, as did several social media users who said they worked for government firms.
Both state company employees, who declined to be identified, said they would be required to stay in Beijing for 14 days before the events, take multiple COVID-19 tests, and only travel between work and home during that time.
“I was initially quite interested, but then realised it came with all sorts of unreasonable conditions,” one said. “So no thanks, I would rather go home to celebrate the new year.”
The Olympics run from Feb. 4-20 and overlap with the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on Feb. 1 and typically sees millions of people travelling home for family reunions.
The topic of Olympics audience policy trended heavily on China’s Twitter-like Weibo on Tuesday, with over 30 million views.
“I’m a Beijing native but there are not any tickets available even though I want to go,” said one Weibo user.
“Please give me a chance? I’ve got a green health code, been vaccinated three times and I’ve never been to a medium or high risk area,” said another.
Organisers had said in September that there would not be any international spectators at the Games. China’s COVID-19 prevention policies have all but shut its borders to international travellers.
It was not clear how many spectators would attend the various events.
Beijing 2022 did not immediately respond to a request for further details about the ticketing plan or requirements for spectators.
In November, the general manager of the Olympics curling venue said attendance there would be limited to 20% of capacity, or fewer than 1,000 people.
In Beijing, Olympic athletes and other Games personnel will be hived off in a “closed loop” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, delayed a year due to COVID-19, took place without spectators.
(Reporting by Winni Zhou, Benda Goh, Yew Lun Tian and Martin Quin Pollard, Editing by Tony Munroe and Ed Osmond)