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A shot at gold, a swearing in, and a tech get-together are all thwarted by omicron

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced on Tuesday he will be postponing his planned Jan.1 inauguration ceremony.
Brittainy Newman
New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced on Tuesday he will be postponing his planned Jan.1 inauguration ceremony.

Updated December 22, 2021 at 10:51 AM ET

Cities across the globe are in the grip of a renewed COVID-19 crisis, as the omicron variant triggers new coronavirus case spikes that many hoped were in the past.

In the U.S., the alarming surge in infections is prompting city leaders and heads of companies to withdraw from public events that would inevitably draw large crowds and potentially expose more people to the virus. It has even moved the NHL to announce it will keep players from participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.

New York's new mayor will skip the usual pageantry

In New York, Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who was hoping to buck tradition by holding his inauguration on Jan. 1 inside of a historical Brooklyn theater rather than on the steps of City Hall, is now postponing the event.

"All I need is a mattress and a floor to execute being the mayor of the City of New York," Adams said.

"I don't need an inauguration," he said, adding that it would be best "if we forgo an inauguration because we don't want to put people in a dangerous environment."

Hockey players will sit out the Winter Olympics

The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday that its players will not be participating in the 2022 Beijing Olympics because of the pandemic, reflecting concerns about the rest of the season as well.

"The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a 'best on best' tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement announcing the decision. "Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL's regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events ... Olympic participation is no longer feasible."

An outbreak among players has already prompted postponement of a slew of games and an earlier holiday break than usual. As of Saturday, there were more than 60 players in the COVID-19 protocol. All but one player in the league has been vaccinated.

A tech event is affected too

Renewed COVID-19 fears have also reached the tech world. CES, an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association that is held annually in Las Vegas, is facing rising cancellations from some of the biggest names in the industry.

Meta Platforms Inc. (parent of Facebook), Twitter and Pinterest all announced separately on Tuesday that they will not be sending company representatives to the conference, despite efforts by organizers to make it safe for attendees.

"Due to the spike in Covid cases across the country in the past week, we've decided to cancel our in-person presence at CES next month," Twitter said in a statement. "We'll continue to actively monitor the situation into the new year and find other opportunities to connect with our clients and partners."

Meta issued a similar statement, saying, "Out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees, we won't be attending CES in-person due to the evolving public health concerns related to Covid-19."

Officials noted the company had already planned to scale back its participation in this year's events, adding that it is exploring exploring ways to participate virtually.

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Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.