Beijing Olympics venues could be 50 percent full, official says

AFP , Tuesday 1 Feb 2022

A senior Olympics official said Tuesday that venues at the Beijing Winter Games could be up to 50 percent full, countering fears that Covid-19 would lead to a second consecutive Games without spectators.

Beijing Olympics
The Beijing Winter Olympics ski jumping venue in Zhangjiakou (AFP)

Last year's Tokyo Summer Olympics took place largely behind closed doors and Chinese organisers decided not to sell tickets for the Beijing Games because of fears about the virus.

But Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games Executive Director at the International Olympic Committee, said he hoped venues in China would be filled to between 30 and 50 percent.

"In terms of capacity we are not there yet, because it has to be fine-tuned at a venue-by-venue basis, but I'd say if we have one person out of three (available spots) or out of two, that would already be a good result," Dubi said in an interview on the official Beijing Games' website.

"It could also depend on whether it is outdoors or indoors. But the great thing is that we are going to have spectators," he added.

Dubi said the spectators would not be restricted to Chinese nationals -- foreigners living in China have also been invited.

"We were very insistent on that," he said. "So they are also reaching out to the expat community and making sure, through the embassies and other ways and means, to identify those who live in Beijing and could attend the Games."

The Beijing Olympics are taking place in a highly policed "closed loop" with competitors, journalists and members of the Chinese workforce cut off from the local population and tested daily for Covid-19.

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