Athletes from around the world have been taking to social media and official channels to complain about their apparent mistreatment and the inconsistency of rules for COVID-19 put in place by China.
China has a long history of suspected and confirmed cheating at Olympic events, particularly when they host (which begs the question: why were they allowed to host again?). The 2022 Beijing winter Olympics are no exception.
According to top athletes, China’s COVID-19 tests have been turning up positive at the perfect timing to kick front-runners out of their competitions. Further, once isolated, the Chinese hosts have been under-feeding the athletes meaning that they are not only missing out on events and training, but once they test negative they’ll be undernourished and at a disadvantage to competition. One Belgian athlete, Kimmey Lemans, was essentially kidnapped and taken to an isolation facility without her consent or the knowledge of even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who is the only oversight body to keep Chinese officials in check.
On top of using COVID-19 as an excuse to isolate, abuse and weaken its top opponents, China has ruthlessly refused to move competitions to daytime hours when temperatures have dropped to -24 degrees fahrenheit with windchill. The competition rules require events be delayed or moved if temperatures fall below -4 degrees fahrenheit but does not require windchill to be factored in. Only human decency would require wind chill be factored in. Swedish athlete, Frida Karlsson nearly collapsed and was dangerously shaking from hypothermia after competing in the frigid temperatures.
Athletes like Karlsson cannot opt for warmer gear because their uniforms are regulated including how much material is used. Four top competitors in ski jumping were eliminated with claims that their jumpsuits had too much excess material around their thighs. The eliminated women had already competed in events wearing the same jumpsuits but the frigid dry temperatures cause the body to lose water and therefor lose bloat which may have caused the suits to become oversized, though, the athletes have strongly implied they believe they were cheated.
The IOC stepped in on behalf of the kidnapped Belgian athlete but are still working on resolving the issues such as starving the isolated patients, ensuring warm enough temperatures for safe competition, and managing the process of uniform compliance. The claims in this article are not the limit on the claims against China so far this year. One thing is clear, China will pull any punches it has.