For athletes competing at the Olympics, nothing is left to chance. When it comes to their daily routines, everything is mapped out and diarised, from their training, recovery, sleep, and the meals they eat. As any athlete will be quick to tell you, competing at the peak of your physical performance demands great attention across all sections and when it comes to food, most stick to a regimented diet that takes into careful consideration amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fibre. Safe to say, it’s unlikely you’ll see athletes at the Olympics perusing Uber Eats for a novel dinner option. But for those competing at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, their regimented plans have been thrown into chaos as enforced hotel quarantine has seen them held hostage to food they have been quick to declare as terrible.
According to a string of social media posts from athletes in hotel quarantine facilities, the food offered is unbearable. Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted a picture of her food to Instagram, with a post that detailed what looked to be a small portion of unseasoned chicken, a handful of plain pasta, five roast potatoes, unspecified red sauce and some kind of meat on a bone served atop a polystyrene tray. She claimed the meal was what she’d been given for “breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days.”
The Instagram post Valeria posted has since been deleted, but in it she described experiencing stomach pain as a result of the food offered to her,. “I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want all this to end. I cry every day. I only sleep all day because I don’t have the strength to get out of bed. I only eat three handfuls of pasta a day because it’s just impossible to eat the rest of the food,” she wrote. She also added that she had lost weight as a result and that her “bones are already sticking out.”
Other complains levelled by athletes held in hotel quarantine include poor or no internet connection, a confusing Covid-19 testing regime, and lack of equipment and space to keep up their training and workout routine. This was echoed by Eric Frenzel, the three-time gold medalist in Nordic combined, who tested positive only to find his hotel conditions “unreasonable” with a small, unhygienic room and infrequent food deliveries.
All of this was enough to warrant urgent action and the Associated Press reports that steps have been taken to rectify the situation. A spokesperson from the Russian biathlon team shared a photo of a new meal tray given to Vasnetsova, which contained salmon, cucumbers, sausages and yoghurt. A stationary bike is also said to have been delivered to her.
According to Kit McConnell, the International Olympic Committee’s sports director, there is a “support network in place to deal with athletes’ concerns both individually and collectively.” McConnell added that the Beijing Olympic organising committee were also responsible for the dialogue with hotels used to host isolating athletes, and thus responsible for such conditions.