Olympians Expose China's Poor Treatment of Them in COVID Quarantine Hotels

Several athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 and placed into quarantine hotels at the Beijing Olympics this past week are criticizing China for providing poor food and housing conditions.

The Olympic competitors have taken to social media or notified their home countries about a lack of available or edible food, as well as a lack of transparency regarding the nation's coronavirus protocols.

"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," Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova said on social media from inside one of Beijing's hotels.

Vasnetsova also shared a photo of what she said was "breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already," which included a tray of plain pasta, charred meat, some potatoes and no greens.

She also claimed that after investigating the food being served to other personnel, athletes were being served worse meals. She shared a photo of her team doctor's food, which included fresh fruit, a salad and prawns with broccoli.

"I honestly don't understand, why is there this attitude to us, the athletes?!" she said, while noting that she has lost so much weight that her "bones are already sticking out."

German delegation head Dirk Schimmelpfennig similarly slammed Beijing's "unreasonable" living conditions after three-time gold medalist Eric Frenzel tested positive for the virus and was sent to a quarantine hotel. Schimmelpfennig said Germany was lobbying for larger and cleaner rooms, as well as more regular food deliveries to help athletes in their recovery, according to the Associated Press.

Other Olympians have called out the game's organizers over what they claim are confusing quarantine protocols. Those who arrived in Beijing and tested positive for COVID-19, but are asymptomatic are supposed to isolate in a designated hotel, while symptomatic individuals are sent to be treated in Chinese hospitals. However, some athletes who tested positive have been allowed to isolate inside the Olympic Village instead.

Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans took to social media to address a lack of information about virus protocols after she said she was sent to a second quarantine location on the day that she thought she was going to be released.

However, after publicly complaining about her situation Meylemans received better treatment and was brought back to the Olympic Village. Others, including Vasnetsova, have reportedly received better food and conditions as well.

Beijing Olympics
A security guard stands behind a barricade in an area not accessible to the general public as part of China's "closed-loop" system during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Olympic Park on January 23, 2022 in Beijing, China. Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

China is attempting to operate under a "zero tolerance" coronavirus policy while hosting the Olympics for the next several weeks. To prevent the virus from spreading, Olympic organizers have developed a closed-loop system to keep all athletes and personnel isolated from the general public. Those who have tested negative for the disease twice will be confined to hotels within the Olympic Village, while specially designated vehicles will transport them to and form competition venues.

Weeks before the games began, China also prepared for the event by cutting off transportation to Beijing from areas with reported infections, closing down nearby schools and universities, and forcing Chinese citizens to show proof of a negative test in order to leave their municipality.

The nation reported more than 100 infections among athletes and team personnel who arrived in Beijing ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday, February 4. However, Brian McCloskey, the chair of Beijing 2022's medical expert panel, said those numbers were to be expected as thousands of people arrived in China this week from around the world.

"We are now just going through the peak period of people arriving in China and therefore we expect to see the highest numbers at this stage," McCloskey said earlier this week.

Newsweek contacted Beijing 2022 organizers for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.