IOC to have tight COVID-19 countermeasures in place for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will have tight COVID-19 countermeasures in place to ensure the safety of all participants, the International Olympic Committee said Friday.

Just over a month after the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an open letter that next year's Winter Games would also require strict measures amid the ongoing pandemic.

"While the pandemic is far from over, I would like to reassure you that together with our Chinese partners and friends, we are sparing no effort to make these Olympic Winter Games safe and secure for everyone," Bach said.

The Beijing Winter Olympics will be held Feb. 4-20.

"As we did in Tokyo, we are putting in place rigorous COVID-19 countermeasures to ensure the health and safety of all Olympic participants in Beijing," the IOC president said, urging teams to get vaccinated and offering support in this process.

Olympic teams were urged by the IOC to request more Chinese and Pfizer vaccines ahead of the 2022 Winter Games as about 100 countries are likely to compete in Beijing. There were 205 national teams in Tokyo. Vaccination is encouraged but not mandatory.

The IOC first announced a vaccine rollout program with Chinese authorities for athletes and officials in March. Chinese vaccines were bought by the IOC and were made available for delegations heading to the Tokyo Olympics from countries that had approved them for use.

In May, vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech donated doses of their product to Tokyo Olympic teams. That scheme has now been extended to include Beijing, the IOC said Friday.

The vast majority of athletes and participants at the Tokyo Olympics were vaccinated.

"I would like to encourage those National Olympic Committees who require additional vaccine doses ... to inform our NOC relations department as soon as possible so that we can put the necessary arrangements in place," Bach said in Friday's letter..

Health officials in China said this week that more than 1 billion people, or 72% of the country's 1.4 billion citizens, have been fully vaccinated.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.