National Sports

After athlete complaints, IOC vows to improve conditions in quarantine hotels

BEIJING - Following complaints about poor living conditions from athletes placed in isolation after positive coronavirus tests, an International Olympic Committee official promised Sunday to make improvements.

“We have found ourselves once in a situation where we’re not necessarily meeting the conditions that we expected,” Christian Dubi, an IOC executive director, said at a briefing Sunday. " ... It is addressed, and it’s very unfortunate that it affected an athlete. It’s been addressed.”

Some Olympic athletes who have been placed in quarantine hotels after positive tests have complained about small portions of substandard food and insufficient access to training equipment. Athletes from the team representing the Russian Olympic Committee and Germany have called the conditions challenging or worse.

“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 biathlete Valeria Vasnetsova said on Instagram, according to the Associated Press.

A German official earlier called conditions “unacceptable” for the country’s three quarantined athletes, but told reporters Sunday that they had improved.

“We have succeeded since yesterday in achieving a marked improvement in conditions for the athletes,” German official Dirk Schimmelpfennig said, according to Reuters.

But other issues persisted. Jukka Jalonen, the coach of the Finland men’s hockey team, said quarantined forward Marko Anttila was “not getting great food” and “would like to have more energy and better food there as well,” Reuters reported.


Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans wept through an Instagram post last week about her sense of isolation and lack of information about why she had been separated from other athletes. Others have said they don’t have access to equipment to train. American bobsledding star Elana Meyers Taylor initially had only a single weight plate to use in her quarantine, although she was later provided more extensive equipment, including an exercise bike.

“Let’s be thorough, very thorough in the future, to make sure that internet connections, food, size of the rooms, equipment for training, everything is perfect for these athletes that do suffer from the conditions,” Dubi, the IOC official, said.

An official from the Beijing Organizing Committee said quarantined athletes would be allowed to order delivery food from the Olympic Village going forward, according to the AP.

Vague procedures for quarantining was one of the many things that alarmed athletes in the months before these Olympics. Since Jan. 23, more than 140 athletes and team officials have tested positive at the Games, either upon arriving to Beijing or within the “closed loop” set up by organizers. Officials have said that with fewer new arrivals as the Games go on, they are expecting fewer positive cases.