China expects to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics "smoothly" and on schedule, despite challenges posed by the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.

"I believe it will definitely pose some challenge to our efforts to prevent and control the virus, but as China has experience in preventing and controlling the coronavirus, I fully believe that China will be able to host the Winter Olympics as scheduled, smoothly and successfully," Zhao said.

Beijing is set to stage the Games from 4 February to 20 February without foreign spectators and with all athletes and related personnel contained in a "closed loop" and subject to daily testing for Covid-19.

Under its "zero-Covid" policy, China has had what are among the world's strictest Covid-19 prevention measures.