When Ohio State played Utah at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, 87,842 people packed into that stadium to watch the game.
On New Year's Eve, 66,839 attended the Orange Bowl to watch Georgia take on Michigan, and 76,313 attended the Cotton Bowl to watch Alabama take on Cincinnati.
COVID-19 did not stop them.
When the 2022 Winter Olympics start in Beijing in a little more than two weeks, the various venues for that event will hold only those who the Communist government of the People's Republic of China allows to be there.
No one will be allowed to buy a ticket for any contest at the Beijing Olympics.
Over the past month, the People's Republic of China has repeatedly escalated the restrictions it will impose on who can attend the Olympic games and what they will be allowed to do there.
On Sept. 29, the International Olympic Committee announced that people from outside mainland China would not be admitted as spectators to the games.
"Tickets will be sold exclusively to spectators residing in China's mainland, who meet the requirements of the COVID-19 countermeasures," the IOC announced.
Two days before Christmas, the PRC announced that the Chinese residents it would let attend the Olympics would not be allowed to speak too loudly there.
"On Thursday, as athletes around the world continued to plot out the safest personal routes to the Games," the New York Times reported, "China detailed some of the strictest rules yet for its own citizens. Spectators at the Winter Olympics — which were already limited to residents of China — will be allowed to clap, but not shout, in support of athletes."
This week, China announced that no tickets at all will be sold for the Olympics and that it will, instead, "invite groups of spectators" to attend the events.
"Given the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators, it has been decided that tickets should not be sold anymore but be part of an adapted programme that will invite groups of spectators to be present on site during the Games," said a statement issued by the IOC. "The organizers expect that these spectators will strictly abide by the COVID-19 countermeasures before, during and after each event so as to help create an absolutely safe environment for the athletes."
Restricting where people can go and what they can do is nothing new in the PRC. It is standard procedure.
The State Department released its latest report on human rights in China last March. The 88-page document chronicled the Chinese government's systematic attack on the rights of the Chinese people. A separate State Department report focused specifically on China's attacks on religious freedom. It was 136 pages long.
"Significant human rights issues included: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government; forced disappearance by the government; torture by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; arbitrary detention by the government, including the mass detention of more than one million Uyghurs and other members of predominantly Muslim minority groups in extrajudicial internment camps," said the opening summary of the human rights report.
"Communist Party control over the judicial and legal system; arbitrary interference with privacy; pervasive and intrusive technical surveillance and monitoring; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members, and censorship and site blocking," it listed as some other Chinese government attacks on human rights.
"Under the two-child policy," it noted, "the government imposes childbirth restrictions and often coerced women and girls into abortions and sterilizations for exceeding birth quotas."
"Communist Party members," the State Department explained, "hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions."
That means China is run by atheists.
"CCP members and members of the armed forces are required to be atheists and are forbidden from engaging in religious practices," says the department's report on religious freedom.
They would like to make everybody in China an atheist — or, failing that, make it difficult for people to practice the faith they do embrace.
"The law mandates the teaching of atheism in schools," says the religious freedom report.
"Children younger than the age of 18 are prohibited from participating in religious activities and receiving religious education, even in schools run by religious organizations," it says.
"A Catholic source in the northeast part of the country told AsiaNews.it in July that government staff attended Sunday services to monitor activities and ensure children who were 18 or younger did not attend," it said.
"Authorities," it said, "also installed surveillance cameras in all Protestant and Catholic churches in Jinxiang County, Jinin City, Shandong Province."
Athletes who have trained for much of their lives to earn the chance to compete in the Olympics should never be barred from doing so — even in Beijing. It would have been wrong to abort their dreams by making them boycott these games to protest the evils committed by the regime that is hosting them.
But when millions of people around the world turn their eyes toward Beijing to watch these great athletes compete, they should not forget those evils.
And so long as China is governed by this regime, it should never be allowed to host another international event.
(Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com.)