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Winter Olympic athletes who have tested positive for Covid are complaining of ‘unreasonable’ conditions while quarantining in Beijing, claiming they have been facing everything from inedible meals to unhygienic hotel rooms.
Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted a photo of her food on Instagram, saying it had been what she’s had to eat for ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already’ at one of Beijing’s quarantine hotels.
The image showed a tray filled with food including plain pasta with a separate portion of sauce, five small pieces of potato and some non-descript meat.
As per the Associated Press (AP), Vasnetsova wrote: “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 said she has mostly survived on a few pieces of pasta as it was ‘impossible’ to eat the rest, adding: “But today I ate all the fat they serve instead of meat because I was very hungry.”
Vasnetsova claimed she has lost a lot of weight, saying: “My bones are already sticking out.”
According to AP, she ended up doing a little ‘detective work’, and managed to have a peek at boxes left outside other rooms in her corridor, spotting doors labelled with signs to distinguish athletes from others working at the games who had tested positive, such as team staff.
She argued that the athletes were getting worse food, having compared it with a picture of the food her team doctor was served – a veritable feast of fresh fruit, a salad and prawns with broccoli.
“I honestly don’t understand, why is there this attitude to us, the athletes?!” Vasnetsova wrote.
Russian biathlon team spokesperson Sergei Averyanov later posted a picture of what he said was an improved meal delivered to Vasnetsova’s room.
This time, it included salmon, cucumbers, sausages and yogurt – with Averyanov adding that a stationary bike would be delivered soon.
Germany’s Eric Frenzel, a three-time gold medallist in Nordic combined, also had to quarantine after testing positive for the virus.
After Frenzel quarantined in a hotel, his coach Dirk Schimmelpfennig criticised the ‘unreasonable’ living conditions, saying the country’s athletes want larger, more hygienic rooms and more regular food deliveries so that sportsmen and women are still fit to complete when released from quarantine.
Schimmelpfennig reportedly requested for Frenzel to be moved to a bigger room with better WiFi and food.
In a statement, Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director for the IOC, admitted the conditions were ‘not good enough’, but insisted that ‘a lot of improvements’ have been made.
"It is a duty and responsibility that we have to make sure that the expectations are met,” Dubi said, according to Inside the Games.
"We have heard and discussed with the NOC (National Olympic Committee).
"In the meantime, the situation has been addressed.
"Nevertheless, the conditions were not good enough that night and it should not happen and we want to make sure that it does not.
"Every time there is an issue we have a very good network that allows us to rely the information and address the situation as swiftly as we can.
"A lot of improvements have been made.
"The conditions that have been created for isolation facilities have been addressed in the main but most of us have found ourselves once in a situation where we are not necessarily meeting the conditions that we accepted.
"It is very unfortunate that it affected an athlete, it has been addressed and let’s be very thorough in the future to make sure that internet conditions, food and size of the rooms, equipment for training and everything is perfect for the athletes who do suffer from the conditions."