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Your Tuesday Briefing: China Limits Olympic Spectators

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Tickets for the Winter Olympics will not be sold to the public.
We’re covering dashed hopes for Olympic spectators in Beijing and China’s birth rate challenge. China had already barred foreign spectators from attending the Winter Games that begin in Beijing on Feb.4. On Monday, it announced that most Chinese people won’t be able to attend either. Citing the evolving threat from the coronavirus pandemic, the Beijing 2022 organizing committee announced that it was ending public ticket sales “to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators.” The decision came less than two days after health authorities reported Beijing’s first case of the Omicron variant and ordered an immediate lockdown and mass testing in one of the capital’s neighborhoods. The outbreak, though so far limited, pierced the extraordinary efforts to isolate Beijing, including a ban on travel into the city. By last week, more than 20 million people were confined in their homes in cities around China, including Tianjin, a port city just 70 miles east of Beijing. The plan: Without offering many details, organizers said they had created an “adapted program” to allow some spectators. Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic. In other developments: China announced on Monday that its birthrate plummeted for a fifth straight year in 2021. The falling birthrate, coupled with the increased life expectancy in China over the last four decades, means the number of people of working age, relative to the growing number of people too old to work, has continued to decline. The population could soon begin to contract, something that would be hard to reverse and may result in labor shortages. The situation is creating a huge political problem for Beijing, which is already facing economic headwinds: Growth in the last quarter of the year slowed to 4 percent. Context: The Chinese Communist Party has loosened its notorious “one child” policy and offered incentives to young families.

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