Despite organizers promising that the Beijing Winter Olympics would be “streamlined, safe, and splendid,” it has already been slammed by athletes for what they argue are “unacceptable” quarantine conditions.
The Winter Olympics 2022 opened four days ago to the usual, customary fireworks and fanfare. Many observers around the world lauded China’s determination to ensure the Games were virus-free and safe. This includes deep-cleaning of sleep pods between uses, regular spraying of disinfectant, and the use of robots to prepare and serve food and drinks. The organizers have also taken the unprecedented move of banning foreign spectators and prohibiting ticket sales to the general public. Additionally, observers, the media, and athletes are all being kept in distinct “bubble areas.” However, the extreme rules and regulations that have been put in place to keep COVID-19 at bay have upset many athletes.
Per the BBC, many participants have complained about the bureaucratic quarantine rules, the freezing conditions, and the fact that they are living and forced to train in an environment that is detrimental to both body and soul. Athletes from all countries are currently in the process of lobbying organizers to improve the situation.
Polish speedskater Natalia Maliszewska claims that after being released from quarantine the night before a qualifying race, she was placed back in isolation mere hours before she was due to compete, following a positive Covid test. Maliszewska wrote on Twitter, “I don’t believe in anything anymore. In no tests. No games. It’s a big joke for me.”
In another incident, Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova voiced her frustration with the quality and service of the food while in isolation. On her Instagram account, she posted a meal of plain pasta, potatoes, and charred meat on a bone with the caption, “Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days already.”
Winter Olympics 2022 rules stipulate that athletes showing COVID-19 symptoms will be taken to a designated hospital. Meanwhile, those who are asymptomatic will be placed in an isolation facility. Two negative tests 24 hours apart are required before they can rejoin their bubble.
Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans couldn’t conceal her emotions when in an Instagram post, she gave an account of how she had been bounced from one isolation facility to another. In a tearful video, she explained, “We are not even sure I will ever be allowed to return to the (Olympic) village. I’m not sure I can handle 14 days more days and the Olympic competition while being in this isolation.”
International Olympics Committee (IOC) sports director Kit McConnell met with reporters on Monday. He assured that the isolation conditions of athletes were the utmost priority and steps were being taken to meet “individual circumstances which are still challenging.”