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‘My Bones Are Already Sticking Out’ Olympians Decry Deplorable Food, Living Conditions At Quarantine Facilities

Olympians living in Beijing for the Winter Olympics are sounding the alarm about deplorable living conditions for athletes forced to quarantine due to a COVID-19 infection.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Olympic athletes forced to quarantine have been subject to paltry meals, inedible food, no training equipment, and oftentimes a lack of transparency on quarantine rules.

“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,” said Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova.

An instagram post from Vasnetsova, shared by Swedish sports news site Sportbladet, showed the pitiful food she had been served at a quarantine hotel in Beijing. The image showed a tray with a small portion of plain pasta, what looks like an orange meat sauce, five small potatoes, some charred meat on bones, and what appears to be an uncooked piece of chicken. As of Thursday, when Vasnetsova posted the picture, the sparse portion had been served for “breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already.”

Vasnetsova said she has already lost a lot of weight. “[M]y bones are already sticking out,” the Olympian said. Vasnetsova said she had survived on the small pasta serving for several days because it was “impossible” to eat the rest of the food, “but today I ate all the fat they serve instead of meat because I was very hungry.”

While quarantining, Vasnetsova investigated the boxes left for other staff and workers who were forced to quarantine. She concluded that the athletes were fed worse, and highlighted the distinction with a picture of the food served to her team doctor. The doctor, who was staying two floors below, had been served shrimp, broccoli, a salad, and fresh fruit. “I honestly don’t understand, why is there this attitude to us, the athletes?!” Vasnetsova wrote.

Other Olympians are demanding change. Dirk Schimmelpfennig, head of the German Olympic delegation, raised an uproar over the “unreasonable” living conditions in the quarantine facilities after Nordic Combined gold medalist Eric Frenzel was forced to quarantine after testing positive. In comments Schimmelpfennig made in the German newspaper FAZ, via AP, the German head demanded rooms that were larger and cleaner, and more regular food service so that athletes are fit to compete when they are cleared to be released from quarantine.

Fortunately, the uproar has paid off. Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans was scheduled to be released from quarantine, but was instead taken to another facility and told to quarantine for another 14 days. Meylemans posted an emotional video to Instagram, which caught the attention of the Belgian delegation and the IOC. Meylemans later posted that she had been released from the facility and brought back to the Olympic village in Yangqing.

 

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A post shared by Kim Meylemans (@kimmeylemans)

Vasnetsova has also seen an improvement in her conditions. Two days after she posted the photo, Russian biathlon team spokesperson Sergei Averyanov posted another photo reportedly showing an improved meal that Vasnetsova had been served, reportedly composed of salmon, sausages, cucumbers and yogurt. Averyanoy also said that a stationary bike would be provided to her room.

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