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A new US president, the first Olympics in history without an audience, dashed hopes for democracy in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Hong Kong. However, for most earthlings, the pandemic has continued to reign over the past year.

At 9 a.m. New Years morning, Sweden time, the West Coast of the United States took a step toward 2022. However, rising infection rates silenced the celebration. San Francisco has suspended the traditional fireworks display while the annual Los Angeles Grand Park party is being held without an audience.

Celebrating without raising the flag

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito delivered his New Year’s address via video in front of a bonsai tree for the second year in a row, unlike the flag-waving crowds that usually celebrate the New Year in front of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

“By evaluating connections between people more than ever, sharing our pain and supporting each other, I hope from the bottom of my heart that we can get through these difficult times,” the emperor said, according to the Associated Press.

As countries around the world are now calling in 2022, the new omicron variant and fear of contagion have caused a large number of cities to cancel or severely restrict New Year’s celebrations, according to Agence France-Presse.

Australia’s $1 million city of Sydney kicked off a traditional giant fireworks display at the world-famous Opera House at noon, which took place at 2pm on New Year’s Eve Sweden time. Unlike last year, tens of thousands of spectators were allowed this year, despite the strong spread of infection in the city. Aside from the fact that some were wearing mouth guards, there was not much that reminded us of the epidemic when people made pilgrimages to parks, sidewalks, and lookout points several hours before noon to wait to enjoy the spectacle.

Restrictions on Red Square

In Moscow, rockets lit up the night sky. Due to restrictions, the Röda torget was empty and spectators had to follow the fireworks some distance away.

In Dubai, crowds of people gathered outside the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, to watch a spectacular fireworks display.

In Paris, public fireworks were stopped on the Champs-Elysees and police patrolled the streets looking for people who had violated the requirement to guard the mouth. Unlike last year’s New Year celebration, Parisians can at least celebrate in the city this year, even if bars have to close at 02:00.

Tivoli in Copenhagen chose to make – in their opinion – the best of the situation when forced to close, by arranging a resounding fireworks display of more than 5,000 pieces.

Serbia went against the tide in Europe and allowed large outdoor crowds. Hours before noon, the streets of the capital, Belgrade, were filled with people hungry to party. About 100,000 people came to the city over the weekend, according to television station RTS.

Goran Fisic, deputy mayor of Belgrade, said he was proud of the thousands of people who took to the streets, the Associated Press writes.

About 15,000 people attended the traditional celebration in New York’s Times Square. Huge difference compared to last year when only a few guests were invited, but far from the more than 50,000 who usually celebrate in a world famous venue.

– I like to celebrate. Wendy Kahn, who traveled to New York from New Orleans, says to New York times.

In Rio de Janeiro, where up to three million people usually gather in Copacabana to celebrate, the festivities went according to plan, with people dancing in the glow of fireworks on the beach.

In South Africa, where the omicron variant was first detected in November, there has been a lot of partying since the curfew was lifted after the number of newly discovered cases dropped sharply.

Sydney traditional fireworks.

Sydney traditional fireworks.

Photo: Dean Lewins/AP/TT

New Year's rockets in Moscow.

New Year’s rockets in Moscow.

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/AP/TT

Restrictions have been lifted in South Africa, and people are celebrating the New Year in Johannesburg, among other places.

Restrictions have been lifted in South Africa, and people are celebrating the New Year in Johannesburg, among other places.

Photo: Shiraaz Moahmed/AP/TT

Much on site, but less than usual, in New York's Times Square.

Much on site, but less than usual, in New York’s Times Square.

Photo: Jeenah Moon/AP/TT

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