Chinese Media Da Ji Yuan reported that on Feb. 6, 2022, there was not enough food, no exercise equipment, and poor hygiene in the isolation room. In addition, some foreign athletes who unfortunately tested positive for COVID during the Beijing Olympics said their isolation conditions worsened.

In an Instagram post, Valeria Vasnetsova, a Russian swimmer at an isolated hotel in Beijing, 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.”

Her problem was not with any symptoms caused by the virus but with the food.

In the picture of the food served to her, the food tray includes plain pasta, a few potatoes, charred meat on a bone, and an orange sauce. Vasnetsova said it was “breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days already.” 

Vasnetsova said she survived mainly on those pieces of pasta because she couldn’t eat anything else. She had lost so much weight that her bones were protruding.

After observing, Vasnetsova concluded that the athletes’ food in the isolation hotel was generally poor, while the team’s staff were relatively well fed. For example, her team’s doctor was also in quarantine to test positive, but his meal consisted of fresh fruit, salad, and broccoli with shrimp.

The AP reported that Sergei Averyanov, a spokesman for Russia’s biathlon team, said her diet had improved somewhat after Vasnetsova revealed her quarantine conditions.

The head of the German Olympic team said the isolated room conditions were unacceptable. Quarantine hotels have increasingly become the target of criticism from athletes and their groups, lobbying organizers for improvements. There is also a lack of transparency throughout the quarantine, with some athletes testing positive for the virus being forced into quarantine hotels that their teams cannot access when other teammates in a similar situation are allowed to isolate themselves in the Olympic village.

After Germany’s Eric Frenzel, who won three Olympic gold medals, tested positive and was quarantined, Germany’s team chief Dirk Schimmelpfennig revealed unreasonable quarantine conditions.

Schimmelpfennig said the conditions in Frenzel’s isolation room did not meet the standards of the athletes and the team, both in terms of cleanliness, food quality, and WiFi.

He said the German team was working to improve the isolation conditions for the three diagnosed athletes, including negotiations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Beijing Organizing Committee.

Schimmelpfennig stated that the rooms must be large enough for athletes to practice and be kept clean. In addition, the food needs to be delivered often, and PCR testing should be done when it is needed twice a day.

In comments cited by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Schmelpfennier further stated that athletes who are eventually released from quarantine would only be able to compete if these conditions are met.

Belgium’s Kim Meylemans also criticized the conditions at the quarantine hotel. In the tearful video posted on social media, Meylemans felt a lack of information at the quarantine hotel. As a result, she feared that she could not return to the Olympic village.

Olav Spahl, a Belgian Olympic official, said on Wednesday, Feb. 2, that they were trying to get Kim Meylemans back to the Olympic Village in Yanqing as soon as possible.

Since Jan. 23, more than 350 Olympic participants, including athletes, staff tested positive upon Beijing’s arrival. Athletes must be confirmed asymptomatic and have tested negative on two PCR tests 24 hours apart before they can be free from quarantine.

Schimmelpfennig said that the number of positive tests and close contacts was at the highest level. He added that it was an organizational issue for the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee.

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