USA Today: Olympic athletes and China’s COVID-19 policies

‘I cry every day’: Olympic athletes slam food, COVID tests and conditions in Beijing quarantine hotels


Kim Hjelmgaard

(USA Today—February 8, 2021) China’s rigid quarantine policies impact Winter Games and the athletes participating. The report below by USA Today shows growing concern from athletes. Read a portion of the report below:

“My heart can’t take it,” emotionally crushed Polish speedskater Natalia Maliszewska wrote in an Instagram post.

“I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want all this to end. I cry every day,” said Russian biathlete Valeria Vasnetsova on the same platform. “Unreasonable,” complained Dirk Schimmelpfennig, the head of the German delegation in an interview with his nation’s media.

All three were speaking out about the conditions they faced or observed in quarantine hotels in China used by athletes who test positive while at the 2022 Winter Olympics. They described “inedible meals,” little or no access to training equipment and a confusing and at times seemingly illogical COVID-19 testing regime. 

Short track speedskater Maliszewska tested positive for coronavirus on Jan. 30, when she was ruled out of Saturday’s qualifying race for the 500 meters, her strongest event. But Maliszewska was unexpectedly released from isolation on the eve of the race, only to test positive a few hours before it started and was immediately ushered back into quarantine. The next day – Sunday, the day after the qualifying event – she was released after again testing negative.


“I know a lot of people do not understand this situation. Positive and negative tests, tests confirming isolation, suddenly positive tests … Later, good results again,” Maliszewska wrote in Polish in her Instagram post, that she also posted on Twitter. It was translated into English by a Polish radio journalist named Mateusz Ligęza. 

“I don’t understand it either,” she wrote.


“I don’t believe in anything anymore. In no tests. No games. It’s a big joke for me.”

Three-time U.S. Olympic bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor also tested positive after arriving in Beijing and had to isolate, but has since been cleared to compete. Meyers Taylor told USA TODAY Sports she did everything she could in her tiny room to prepare for the first monobob heats that begin Feb. 13. She did squats and lifted weights and sprinted from one end of the room to the other to mimic the start of a race.


U.S. Figure Skating announced Monday that Vincent Zhou, scheduled to skate the men’s short program Tuesday, tested positive on Sunday. It’s now unclear whether he will be able to compete. 


Read the full report here.

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