A man wearing a face mask printed with a cartoon tiger walks on a street during the Lunar New Year eve in Beijing, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
View All (12)

BEIJING (AP) — The Lunar New Year in China and the Winter Olympics in Beijing get started only days apart this year.

Bing Dwen Dwen, the chubby panda with the cute smile that is serving as the Olympic mascot, celebrated the Year of the Tiger with locals in Beijing on Monday night — four days before the opening ceremony of the 2022 Games.

Revelers around the host city celebrated and took photos outside displays for the Beijing Games at Tiananmen Square.

The Lunar New Year is the most important annual holiday in China. Each year it is named after one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, with this year being the Year of the Tiger.

This year’s holiday has seen fewer people return to their hometowns for traditional family gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic. China’s strict pandemic policies can lead to the swift lockdown of towns and cities, as well as suspension of travel wherever clusters of coronavirus cases are identified.

At the Olympics, athletes and workers are being kept in bubbles to stop the spread of the virus. They are staying in walled-off hotels and can come and go only in special vehicles that take them to the venues and other Olympics facilities.

As of the end of Monday, 272 people had tested positive among more than 10,000 arrivals for the Olympics, organizers said.


More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports