The International Olympic Committee announced on Wednesday that only people who live in China will be permitted to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

“Tickets will be sold exclusively to spectators residing in China’s mainland, who meet the requirements of the COVID-19 countermeasures,” the IOC said. “Specific requirements on COVID-19 countermeasures for spectators from China’s mainland and the details of ticketing arrangements are under discussion and development, and will be released to the public in due course once they are finalized.”

According to the announcement, the restrictions were put in place following consultations with international experts and Chinese officials.

Overseas fans banned from 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The IOC also said only fully vaccinated participants at the Games, which start on February 4, would be exempt from a 21-day quarantine upon arrival, unless athletes can provide a “justified medical exemption”.

While acknowledging the disappointment of international fans who will be unable to attend, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) welcomed the decision to have Chinese spectators after the Tokyo Summer Games were held inside empty stadiums due to COVID-19 precautions.

“However, all parties feel for the athletes and the spectators from around the world, knowing that the restriction on spectators from outside mainland China had to be put in place in order to ensure the safe holding of the Games this winter.”

Among the most notable differences: Unlike in Tokyo, where athletes mostly competed behind closed doors, Beijing 2022 organizers have indicated that some Chinese fans will be permitted to attend their Games, as long as they follow to-be-determined protocols.

The Beijing Winter Games begin Feb. 4.

US will boycott the 2022 Winter Games?

There have been significant calls for the United States and American companies to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in protest of communist China’s oppression of religious minorities.

“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this year of Democrat President Joe Biden’s position on the 2022 Winter Olympics. “We have not discussed, and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners.”

The move comes as worldwide pressure from the World Health Organization and other organisations increases to determine the roots of the coronavirus outbreak.

“A new team of about 20 scientists—including specialists in laboratory safety and biosecurity and geneticists and animal-disease experts versed in how viruses spill over from nature—is being assembled with a mandate to hunt for new evidence in China and elsewhere,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The possibilities that the new team is charged with examining include whether the Covid-19 virus could have emerged from a lab, according to WHO officials, a hypothesis that has especially angered China.”

The new effort comes after Beijing hampered the WHO’s initial investigation into the pandemic’s origins by refusing to hand over raw patient data from early cases to investigators. China has attempted to divert attention away from the possibility that the pandemic began in one of China’s labs with serious safety issues by falsely blaming the United States, claiming without evidence that the coronavirus originated in a lab in the United States.