Olympians in tears over poor living conditions, lack of food at Winter Games

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It’s apparently not all fun and games at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Complaints from athletes and officials are pouring in about the alleged poor living conditions, dining options, isolating rooms, and debilitating weather conditions, according to social media posts.

German Alpine skiing coach Christian Schwaiger criticized the catering in Beijing and raised concern about limited food options to fuel the high-performing pro athletes.

“The catering is extremely questionable because really it’s not catering at all. “There are no hot meals,” Schwaiger said, via the Sun.

“There are crisps, some nuts and chocolate, and nothing else. This shows a lack of focus on high-performance sport.”

Team USA reportedly came prepared and brought extra food to the Winter Games, including bags of pasta.

Olympic food
A food station at the Winter Games in Beijing.
AP

There have also been concerns about how COVID-19 is being handled in the Olympic Village.

Valeria Vasnetsova, a Russian biathlon competitor, took to Instagram to discuss her experiences under Beijing’s strict quarantine conditions.

“I’ve been getting this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days now. I’ve lost a lot of weight and my bones are sticking out. I can’t eat anything else, I don’t know anything about my corona tests,” Vasnetsova wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post. 

Marko Anttila
Marko Anttila tested positive for COVID-19 over two weeks ago, but he and his delegation have faced trouble from Beijing about his positivity.
AP

“I only sleep all day because I don’t even have the strength to get out of bed. I only eat three handfuls of pasta a day because it’s just impossible to eat the rest of the food,” she added. 

“My stomach hurts, I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want all this to end. I cry every day. I’m very tired,” she wrote, per the Associated Press, claiming the same meal was served for breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days.

Vasnetsova added that she ate all the fat on a piece of meat “because I was very hungry.” She also claimed that some athletes were getting worse food than others.


Athletes who test positive for COVID-19 at the Winter Games, but are asymptomatic, must isolate in a designated hotel. For those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, immediate hospitalization is required.

Athletes can return to competition once they have submitted two consecutive negative tests.

Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans broke down in tears in a video she posted to Instagram, explaining how scared and confused she was about the COVID-19 protocols in Beijing.

Meylemans tested positive for the virus when she arrived, and later tested negative. When she thought she was being transported to return to the Olympic Village in Yanqing, she was taken by ambulance to another isolation destination.  

Dirk Schimmelpfennig, the head of the German delegation, called the hotel accommodations “unreasonable,” while expressing concern about the isolation conditions for three-time Nordic combined gold medallist Eric Frenzel, who was placed in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Finnish Olympic team says Marko Anttila, formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks, tested positive 18 days ago but produced several negative results prior to departure.

Head coach Jukka Jalonen blasted: “Marko has been with our team for about a week before we came here and he tested negative.”

“We know that he’s fully healthy and ready to go and that’s why we think that China, for some reason, they won’t respect his human rights and that’s not a great situation,” he added.

The International Olympic Committee released a statement about the matter, saying, “We are aware of the complaints raised by some athletes, particularly with regard to food temperature, variety and portion size. The issues are currently being addressed together with Beijing 2022 and the respective management of the facilities concerned.

“We feel for every athlete who cannot compete because of a Covid-19 infection. The protocols have been put in place to ensure safe Olympic Games for everyone. All the cases are managed in full accordance with the rules stated in the Playbooks and in the adjustments which were made to the protocols.”


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But it’s not just food and COVID-19 protocols that have athletes and officials up in arms. The weather has also made it difficult for athletes to compete at their best.

Swedish team boss Anders Bystroem said he and his team have discussed making a request to Olympic officials to change their race time to earlier in the day to avoid the brutal conditions.

Nina O'Brien
Nina O’Brien was involved in a scary fall while skiing.
AP

“We have the cold limits we have, there is not much to say about that. I do not know if they also measure the wind effect,” he said. “If FIS says it’s -17 degrees and it’s windy, and it’s -35 degrees with the wind chill, what do you do then?

“The women’s skiathlon on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Frida Karlsson was completely destroyed by the cold. It’s not good that the sprint starts even later … At the same time, I don’t think it will be possible to change the time because of the Olympic schedule.”

American skier Nina O’Brien was involved in a scary crash on Monday amid the blustery weather conditions.

The 24-year-old was competing in the women’s giant slalom in her second run at the Winter Olympics when she slammed into a gate just short of the finish line.

O’Brien was treated by paramedics and taken off the slalom course on a stretcher.

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