Controversies overshadow competition at Beijing Winter Olympics


An appropriate image for these Olympic Games.

An appropriate image for these Olympic Games.
ImageGetty Images

Hosting an Olympics of any kind is like it’s your turn to throw a house party after you turn 30. Yes, we all like social gatherings and it’s nice to see everyone, but I have to spend money to feed people who make dirty shit, judge my house, complain about the free food and then leave a mess to clean up? No, I’d rather opt out of the rotation.

If you don’t like the condition of your home, it’s probably best not to invite the whole world over to see it. However, China doesn’t seem to give a fuck what you think about their cooking, cleanliness, shoe-taking protocols, or how they treat their own citizens.

The party that should have been the Olympics seems like a Get out-one turn, with athletes, some in tears, collapsing/pissed/complaining about everything from sickeningly bad food to inconsistent/presumptuous COVID protocols to weather and snow conditions. (I know Daniel Kaluuya wasn’t trying to get away from those white folks over the raisin-laden potato salad; the reference was more about the nightmarish turn these games have taken.)

Here is visibly upset Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans on her Instagram, she tries to explain where she is after being transported by ambulance to another isolation unit instead of being returned to the Olympic Village.

Polish short track speedster Natalia Maliszewska had a similar traumatic experiencesobbing in an ambulance and afraid because she too thought she had complied with the COVID protocols, to be placed back in isolation after a short return to the village.

Officials didn’t even try to explain to her what was going on.

“They told me at midnight I could go out and five minutes later I couldn’t,” she said Reuters† “They told me there’s so much political stuff you won’t understand. It’s China.”

As for the food, Russian biathlon contestant Valeria Vasnetsova gave the saddest Yelp review I’ve ever read, 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 say the food can’t be that bad, see for yourself.

That chicken looks raw, you know those potatoes weren’t crispy, there’s no vegetable to be seen – yes, that looks like a tomato under the raw chicken, but tomatoes aren’t vegetables – and what’s that sauce?

If you want to upgrade your meal from barely acceptable airplane food to premium airplane food, all you have to do is make it an international incident, as Russian biathlon team spokesman Sergey Averyanov later shared a photo of a new meal given to Vasnetsova with salmon, cucumbers, sausages and yogurt, according to the Associated Press

However, Christian Schwaiger, coach of the German men’s alpine ski team, is still waiting for his teams to eat, as he said no hot meals are provided at the downhill location.

“The catering is extremely questionable, because it’s really not catering at all… I expected the Olympic Committee to be able to provide hot meals,” he said. Reuters

You would also think that the host of the Winter Olympics could provide real snow, too. It is all 100 percent man made† Competing on artificial snow isn’t all that special for winter sports enthusiasts due to the effects of climate change, but as someone who’s snowboarded on depressing strips of artificial snow surrounded by an even more depressing brown, arid landscape, it’s about as inspiring as surfing a wave machine.

Aesthetics aside, some cross-country competitors have had issues with the speed of the snow, as well as the unwavering tight schedule that doesn’t take temperature into account.

“The track 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 gets in the track. You have to get to a certain speed and then you’re good, but when you go slow, it feels like you’re standing still.”

The Swedish cross-country team has lobbied to move race times because the temps hovered around the FIS competition limit (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), and that’s before windchill is taken into account. Frida Karlsson was so cold at the end of the women’s ski race on Saturday that she was visibly shaking and about to collapse at the end of the race, according to Insider

If you add in the human rights charges against the host country for the treatment of the Uyghurs, the Peng Shuai situation, diplomatic boycotts and their lackluster job even as they try to cover up their scandals, you have what we see in China: a Games are so controversial that it overshadows the athletes. (I think my favorite overt act of hypocrisy was the pleas of “Give peace a chance” at the opening ceremony for a John Lennon “Imagine” drop. Now what? OJ Simpson is lobbying for women’s rights before he treats Frank Sinatra?)

You wonder why a country would voluntarily host the biggest house party of sports in the future. Seems like an expensive pain in the ass, and I haven’t seen anyone make a good case for hosting one yet. However, I think if you’re arrogant enough to think that no one has the arm strength to shatter your glass house with a rock, then throw them.

China may not like the avalanche of negative publicity they and these Games have received, but hey, they invited us.

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