‘My stomach hurts, I’m very pale’: Olympians lament inedible food and ‘unreasonable’ conditions

As many athletes watch their Olympic dreams get dashed by a positive COVID test, more and more are taking to social media and speaking out against the conditions of the Beijing “quarantine hotels” into which they are being forced to check in.

“My stomach hurts, I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes,” said Valeria Vasnetsova, a Russian athlete competing in the biathlon, in an Instagram post shared from isolation. “I want this all to end. I cry every day. I’m very tired.”

Thursday, Vasnetsova posted a picture of her food tray. On it sat a bit of plain pasta, some charred meat, a sprinkling of potatoes, and some orange sauce. According to Vasnetsova, that was “breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already.”

On most days, the athlete nibbled solely on the pasta, claiming the rest was “impossible” to eat. Eventually, hunger got the best of her, leading her to eat “all the fat they serve instead of meat.”

“My bones are already sticking out,” she said, due to the weight she has already lost.

Vasnetsova isn’t the only one displeased with the accommodations.

Dirk Shimmelpfennig, head of the German delegation, called the living conditions “unreasonable,” after three-time gold medalist Eric Frenzel tested positive. According to AP News, Shimmelpfennig told FAZ, a German newspaper, that “Germany wants larger, more hygienic rooms, and more regular food deliveries so athletes who are eventually released are still fit to compete.”

According to Vasnetsova, the quality of food provided differs between athletes and team staff members. For proof, she snapped a photo of her team doctor’s food box, which included items such as fresh fruit, a salad, and prawns served with broccoli.

“I honestly don’t understand,” Vasnetsova wrote. “Why is there this attitude to us, the athletes?”

For another athlete, the issue wasn’t so much the food as it was the feeling that she was being kept in the dark about things. Thinking she was being released, Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans was instead put into an ambulance and shuttled to several of the quarantine facilities.

A post of the crying Meylemans stating she wasn’t sure how she’d handle another 14 days in isolation made the rounds on social media, and soon, the athlete was brought back to the athlete’s village for the remainder of her quarantine.

While she is reportedly more at ease now that she is back in the Olympic Village, Meylemans will still need to pass seven days of testing before she can venture out among the crowds, according to a report from Fox Sports.

“Our main goal was to get Kim to the Olympic Village in Yanqing as quickly as possible,” said Belgian Olympic official Olav Spahl on Wednesday. “We are therefore very pleased that this has now been successfully achieved.”

“We understand that the COVID measures are necessary to safeguard the safety and health of participants in the games,” he added, “but we believe that the athlete should always be at the center of such an approach.”


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