Robots, tests & hazmat suits: Russian Olympians give glimpse inside Beijing bubble
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, going to the Olympics was considered a unique adventure for most participants, who savored the spirit of the Games and enjoyed the unforgettable atmosphere of a sporting spectacle which is among the greatest on the planet.
Now, the situation has drastically changed. And if the atmosphere in Beijing could still be considered unique, it’s an equally challenging experience for athletes and organizers alike as they are locked in the Olympic 'bubble' to keep coronavirus at bay as best they can.
Members of the Russian delegation who have already arrived in Beijing have shared photos and videos giving a glimpse of what life inside the Olympic 'closed loop' is like.
The team’s adventure started with a warm welcome at Beijing airport, where personnel wearing protective suits directed passengers through the airport and conducted the first Covid-19 tests, which are obligatory for all international guests.
Some athletes even compared the host city to a medical facility where constant tests, temperature measurements, and social distancing have become an inseparable part of the Olympics experience.
Athletes and coaches are not allowed to leave their hotel without regular temperature checks, and they are not allowed to enter areas restricted by the organizers with specially designed boundaries.
To minimize the risk of being infected, the organizers delegated some of the duties to robots, which cook and deliver food in the Olympic Village.
Some Russian athletes have been amazed by China’s technical progress, sharing numerous videos with futuristic, high-tech food delivery robots – although figure skating star Evgenia Medvedeva endured a mishap when one mischievous bot made off with her dinner.
Elsewhere, robots have been called on to serve food at the Olympic dining hall and even shake things up by serving drinks for visitors to the Winter Games media center.
Athletes have their own rooms, a rule which was also implemented as part of measures to prevent the spread of the virus during the Olympics.
Russian figure skating stars Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova showed off their spacious-looking accommodation upon arrival in the Chinese capital.
Renowned Russian skater Alexei Yagudin tried to concentrate on the positives inside the bubble, saying guests are allowed to go to the sauna, swimming pool, and gym if they have negative tests, although he kept his mask on while trainer Ilia Averbukh pounded the treadmill.
The Beijing Olympics will kick off on Friday, with the first medals set to be handed out this Saturday.
So far, the athletes have had to worry not only about their performance, but also the Covid-19 tests, which have to be negative for them to be approved for the competitions.