Hosting an Olympics of any kind is like when it’s your turn to host a house party after you turn 30. Yes, we all like social gatherings and it’s fun seeing everyone, but I have to spend money to feed people who dirty shit up, judge my house, complain about the free food, and then leave a mess for me to clean up? Nah, I’d rather just opt out of the rotation.
If you don’t like the state of your house, it’s probably best to avoid inviting the entire world to come see it. However, China doesn’t seem to give a fuck about what you think of their cooking, cleanliness, shoes on/off protocols, or how they treat their own inhabitants.
The party that was supposed to be the Olympics appears to have taken a Get Out-ian turn, with athletes, some in tears, breaking down/getting pissed/complaining about everything from nauseatingly bad food to inconsistent/overbearing COVID protocols to weather and snow conditions. (I know Daniel Kaluuya wasn’t trying to get away from those white people because of raisin-laden potato salad; the reference was more about the nightmarish turn these games have taken.)
Here’s visibly upset Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans on her Instagram trying to explain where she is after she was transported via ambulance to another isolation unit rather than returned to the Olympic Village.
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Polish short track speed skater Natalia Maliszewska had a similarly traumatic experience, sobbing in an ambulance and scared because she, too, thought she had satisfied the COVID protocols, only to be taken back into isolation after a brief return to the village.
Officials didn’t even try to explain to her what was going on.
“They had told me at midnight that I could go out and five minutes later that I could not,” she told Reuters. “They told me there’s so many politics stuff that you will not understand. It’s China.”
As far as the food goes, Russian biathlon participant Valeria Vasnetsova gave the saddest Yelp review I’ve ever read, saying in a now-deleted Instagram post (via USA Today), “I’ve lost a lot of weight and my bones are sticking out. … I only sleep all day because I don’t even 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,”
If you’re saying the food can’t be that bad, take a look for yourself.
That chicken looks raw, you know those potatoes weren’t crispy, there’s not a vegetable to be seen — yes, that looks like a tomato beneath the raw chicken, but tomatoes aren’t vegetables — and what is that sauce?
If you want to upgrade your meal from barely passable airplane food to first class airplane food, all you have to do is turn it into an international incident, as Russian biathlon team spokesperson Sergey Averyanov later shared a photo of a new meal given to Vasnetsova featuring salmon, cucumbers, sausages, and yogurt, according to the Associated Press.
Christian Schwaiger, coach of the German men’s alpine skiing team, is still waiting for his teams’ food to improve, though, as he said there are no hot meals being provided at the downhill venue.
“The catering is extremely questionable, because really it’s not catering at all... I would have expected that the Olympic Committee is capable of providing hot meals,” he told Reuters.
You’d also think the host of the Winter Olympics would be capable of providing real snow, too. All of it is 100 percent man made. Competing on artificial snow isn’t that out of the ordinary for winter athletes due to the effects of climate change, but as someone who has snowboarded on depressing strips of artificial snow surrounded by an even more depressing brown, barren landscape, it’s about as inspiring as surfing on a wave machine.
Aesthetics aside, some cross-country competitors have taken issue with the speed of the snow, as well as the unflinchingly rigid scheduling that doesn’t account for temperature.
“The course is super, super slow,” James Clugnet, a cross-country skier from Great Britain, told NPR. “It’s so cold, and it’s a bit like a desert next to the track, so when it’s windy, the sand comes into the track. You have to reach a certain speed and then you’re all right, but when you’re going slowly, it feels like you’re standing still.”
The Swedish cross-country team has lobbied for race times to be moved because temps have hovered around the FIS competition limit (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), and that’s before factoring in windchill. Frida Karlsson was so cold at the end of the women’s skiathlon Saturday that she was visibly shaking by the end of the race and verging on collapse, according to Insider.
When you add in the human rights allegations against the host nation for its treatment of the Uyghurs, the Peng Shuai situation, diplomatic boycotts, and their lackluster job even trying to cover up their scandals, you have what we’re seeing in China: A Games so fraught with controversy that it’s overshadowing the athletes. (I think my favorite overt act of hypocrisy was pleas of “Give peace a chance” during the opening ceremonies before a John Lennon “Imagine” drop. What’s next? OJ Simpson lobbying for women’s rights before covering Frank Sinatra?)
It makes you wonder why any country would volunteer to throw sports’ biggest house party in the future. It seems like an expensive pain in the ass, and I have yet to see anyone make a good case for hosting one. However, I guess if you’re arrogant enough to think no one has the arm strength to shatter your glass house with a stone, let them chuck.
China may not like the avalanche of negative publicity they and these Games have received, but, hey, they invited us.