Smart beds, PCR tests and Pizza Hut: A Team Canada athlete takes us inside Beijing’s Olympic Village

What’s it like to be a Canadian athlete in Beijing’s Olympic Village during a pandemic?

Ahead of the Games starting Friday, Team Canada Biathlete Adam Runnalls is capturing his unique experience over TikTok – sharing an inside look at everything from PCR testing to smart beds – and gaining tens of thousands of views.

When he arrived in Beijing on Sunday, Runnalls stepped foot inside a campus-style residence in the village of Zhangjiakou, located in the northern part of China.

Canada's Adam Runnalls competes during the mens 10km sprint event of the IBU Biathlon World Cup in Le Grand Bornand near Annecy, France.

Runnalls shares a room with another athlete in a hotel-style double bedroom with a small wardrobe area and a bathroom. With a total of 215 athletes representing Canada at the Olympics, Team Canada has basically taken over a whole building with folks competing from Argentina also residing on the top floor.

Every 24 hours, Runnalls says athletes are required to take daily PCR tests. If athletes refuse, they face restrictions, including being unable to leave their rooms. Testing availability is set up in the lobby from 6 am to 9 am, but Olympians can still get tested throughout the day at booths set up outside the dining hall. If an athlete does test positive for COVID, they’ll have to move to an isolated room until further tests are completed.

Athletes are also raving about the beds at the Beijing Olympics, which are zero gravity, equipped with a remote control device and a sweet reclining option.

“You can basically lift the feet and the head and put it in whatever position you want,” said Runnalls. “It’s nice because we do not really have anywhere else to sit. It’s nice when you’re laying in your bed instead of sitting up against the wall. ”

In the main entrance to the building, there’s a lobby area with couches, snacks and a couple of TVs to watch the games. There are no televisions or other bedroom furniture, but Team Canada also has a small lounge area with a games room that includes a PS5 and board games.

Food and beverage services for athletes at the Olympics have been revamped to limit as much contact as possible with other humans. In Canada’s building, workers in hazmat suits are in charge of the handling and delivery of food to athletes who eat their meal with plexiglass separators.

“The dining hall does get busy, it’s probably one of the busier places I’ve been probably since COVID has started,” said Runnalls. “But it does feel quite safe, all the staff are in their hazmat suits and you have to wear gloves to go do anything.”

Gondolas glide past a sign for the Olympic Village at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb.  2, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing.

The food at the dining hall varies as the days go by but a constant option is a specialty in Chinese cuisine that includes chicken fried rice, sweet and sour pork, dumplings and Shanghai noodles.

“Today, I saw a baby octopus and soy sauce (being served),” said Runnalls. “I do not know if anyone tried it so I did not get the scoop.”

Besides Chinese cuisine, there is a Pizza Hut and KFC on site that Runnalls says is constantly packed. Food services start early, at around 5 am with an open dining hall available until 11 pm as snacks are available 24/7.

A member of Team Japan arrives at the Olympic Village for the 2022 Winter Olympics, Jan.  30, 2022, in Beijing.

TikToks from other athletes also show food-serving robots working in the Olympic Village, delivering room service for athletes and picking up meals at their front doors by entering a four-digital code given with the order.

In the Village, there’s a plaza with an Olympic store, a general shop to purchase items, a cultural museum and a hair salon. One of the coolest parts for Runnalls so far has been seeing the Great Wall of China through the corner of the village while also seeing it lit up near one of the race venues.

Along with the amenities, every Canadian athlete receives exclusive Team Canada Lululemon gear to wear throughout their stay in Beijing. Some athletes have eagerly shown off their Team Canada swag.

“You come into your room and there’s a full big suitcase, a little duffle bag and two boxes of shoes,” said Runnalls. “There’s like four pairs of joggers, shorts, six t-shirts, four long sleeves a bunch of sweaters and like four jackets. We got a lot of sh-t. ”

This is Runnalls’ first-ever Olympics and so far, the atmosphere is exceeding his expectations.

“There’s way more energy than I think I would have imagined being here. The events have not even started, so there’s not much national pride yet but once that happens it’ll be really nice, ”said Runnalls.

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