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Winter Olympics 2022: Stars complain about food, isolation, Covid rules in Beijing

Winter Olympians and their teams are blowing up about shocking food, accommodation and Covid rules as Beijing becomes a horror show.

Winter Olympians have gone into meltdown, making complaints about the food, bitterly cold weather and awful isolation rooms in China.

Day two of the Games saw competitors and officials vent their frustration about the facilities and conditions they have been subjected to in Beijing.

First it was the Germans who made their feelings known about the lack of decent catering at the Alpine course near Yanqing.

This followed the decision to cancel the blue riband men’s downhill event on Sunday due to high winds and move it back to Monday instead.

German skiing coach Christian Schwaiger said: “The catering is extremely questionable because really it’s not catering at all.

“I’d have expected that the Olympic Committee would be capable of providing hot meals.

“There are no hot meals. There are crisps, some nuts and chocolate and nothing else. This shows a lack of focus on high-performance sport.”

Some others came prepared and Team USA had the foresight to bring along camping food – like bags of pasta – that needed hot water to make a meal.

Meanwhile, Sweden called on skiing chiefs to start cross-country races earlier in the day to protect its stars from the freezing temperatures and biting, brisk winds.

It has been about -20C degrees in the mountains of Zhangjiakou, some 200km north-west of Beijing. Races are generally being held in the late afternoon to make it easier for European audiences to watch on TV.

Swedish star Frida Karlsson was on the verge of collapsing after finishing fifth in the 15km skiathlon, prompting concerns.

Sweden’s team boss Anders Bystroem referenced International Ski Federation (FIS) rules, which stop competition when temperatures are below -20C, suggesting the wind chill factor needs to be accounted for too.

“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,” Bystroem 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 4pm and Frida Karlsson was completely destroyed by the cold. It’s not good that the sprint starts even later.

“We have talked in the team about making a request (to race earlier) during the day if it’s possible.

“At the same time I don’t think it will be possible to change the time because of the Olympic schedule.”

Russia and Finland have also hit out about the quarantine conditions for those who test positive to Covid. It is believed more than 360 Games participants, including 142 athletes and national staff, have tested positive upon arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Athletes who test positive but are not showing any symptoms go to a dedicated hotel for isolation. Anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms will be immediately hospitalised.

In both cases, they will be able to compete once they have tested negative on successive days.

Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted on Instagram from one of the city’s so-called quarantine hotels that her “stomach hurts” from a lack of quality food being delivered.

She said: “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.”

Vasnetsova also posted a grim photo of food she was given and claimed it was “breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already”. She said she ate some of the pasta but it was “impossible” to eat the rest, adding “my bones are already sticking out” because he has lost a lot of weight in Beijing.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Polish speed skater Natalia Maliszewska, who was originally freed from isolation after a negative test to compete in the women’s 500m event, only to be brought back into isolation before the race started because of a positive test hours after her negative result came back.

“Since a week I have been living in fear and these changes in mood,” she said about the confusion. “I cry until I have no more tears and make not only the people around me worry but myself too.

“People got me out of my room at 3am. This night was a horror, I slept in my clothes in my bed because I was afraid that at any moment someone would take me back to isolation. Then a message that unfortunately they were mistaken, that I am a threat, and should not have been released from isolation.

“I have to get back to the Olympic Village as soon as possible. I can’t understand this anymore. I no longer believe in any tests, any Olympics. To me this is a big joke, I hope whoever is managing this has a lot of fun.

“My heart and my mind can’t take this anymore.

“Something in me died on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, the coach of the Finnish men’s ice hockey team accused China of not respecting a player’s human rights by keeping him in isolation unnecessarily.

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

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

“He was with the players and with the coaching staff that week and nobody got any infection from him or from anybody else.

“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.”

Finnish doctor Maarit Valtonen added: “From a medical perspective we know that a person like this (Anttila) is no longer infectious, no danger to the other team.

“These isolation decisions are not based on medicine or science, it’s more cultural and political decisions.”

The International Olympic Committee responded to the flurry of complaints in a statement.

“We are aware of the complaints raised by some athletes, particularly with regard to food temperature, variety and portion size,” the IOC said.

“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.”

This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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