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BEIJING — Olympic athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 and were forced into isolation in Beijing are reporting serious problems with their quarantine conditions.
Team officials from Germany, Belgium and Russia said their athletes are facing nightmarish situations in the so-called quarantine hotels set up by Chinese officials, including poor to no internet connection, bad food and a lack of training equipment.
No access to fitness equipment or communication difficulties with their teams are particularly problematic for athletes trying to stay in top shape before competition.
“My stomach hurts, I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want this all to stop. i cry every day I’m very tired,” Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted on Instagram.
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Vasnetsova, who missed her competition, said she was given pasta, orange sauce, meat and potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days.
Germany’s Eric Frenzel, a three-time gold medalist in Nordic combined, also tested positive. Dirk Schimmelpfennig, the head of the German delegation, said the hotel conditions were “unreasonable” for him. The rooms were too small, unsanitary and food deliveries didn’t come often enough.
Athletes will be held in these isolation facilities until they test negative with two consecutive PCR tests. Only then can they be released and re-enter the Olympic Village to train with their teams and take part in competitions.
Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans also tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Beijing.
In a series of Instagram posts, Meylemans tearfully shared details of her confusing situation, which unfolded after she was quarantined.
After the test came back negative, she thought she would be taken back to the Yanqing Olympic Village. Instead, she boarded an ambulance, which took her entirely to another isolation facility.
It left her devastated, confused and scared.
After these very public complaints, the Olympic organizers made efforts to fix the problems.
Addressing the Frenzel situation directly, Christophe Dubi, the Executive Director of the Olympic Games, said on Sunday: “It should never have happened.”
Dubi said he and other organizers are working to address any issues athletes and their teams face.
“Anytime there’s an issue, we have a very good network to share information and address the issue as quickly as possible,” he said. “It is very unfortunate that it hit an athlete.”
Russia’s delegation reported that Vasnetsova’s meals have improved significantly.
On Sunday, Schimmelpfennig said organizers responded quickly to their concerns about Frenzel.
Meylemans has since returned to the Yanqing Olympic Village – still under quarantine but now closer to her team.
“I’m in a wing now, which is just isolation, but at least I’m back in the village,” Meylemans told the Associated Press. “I feel safe and can train a little better here.”