Representatives from several countries participating in the Beijing Olympics have taken issue with China’s behavior as a host country, pointing to inhumane conditions for quarantined athletes, unreasonable isolation rules and unexplained media suppression.
On Sunday, Finland’s men’s ice hockey team coach, Jukka Jalonen, accused China of not respecting one of his player’s human rights while he was in isolation following a positive Covid-19 test, claiming hockey player Marko Anttila was “not getting food” and was under immense stress, according to Reuters.
The Finnish team doctor said China has forced Anttila, who tested positive 18 days ago, to remain in Covid-19 isolation despite no longer being considered infectious.
On Saturday, Germany’s team chief Dirk Schimmelpfennig told reporters the living conditions for German skier Eric Frenzel, who was also isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, were “unacceptable,” complaining of a lack of cleanliness, poor food quality and insufficient WiFi, though he said on Sunday organizers responded quickly to the concerns.
Belgian Skeleton racer Kim Meylemans, who was also forced to isolate, posted a tear-filled video on her Instagram Wednesday in which she said she thought she’d been cleared from protocols as a “close contact” and would be released from isolation, but the ambulance driving her instead moved her from one isolation facility to another.
“We are not even sure I will ever be allowed to return to the [Olympic] village,” Meylemans said in the post. “I ask you all to give me some time to consider my next steps, because I’m not sure I can handle 14 more days and the Olympic competition while being in this isolation.”
On Friday, a Chinese official forcefully moved a Dutch journalist on live TV as he was reporting outside of the National Stadium in Beijing. The reporter, Sjoerd den Daas, said on Twitter he and other media colleagues have been stopped several times by Chinese officials who sometimes do not identify themselves: “It’s hard to see last night’s incident as an isolated incident, as the [International Olympic Committee] claims.”
The international Ice Hockey Federation will meet with the International Olympic Committee on Sunday to discuss Anttila’s case, along with other athlete controversies, Jalonen told Reuters and other media outlets in a Zoom press conference. An Olympics spokesperson told Reuters, “We are in a process of addressing these problems.” The IOC did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment. Finland will begin its group play in Hockey against Slovakia on Thursday.
Many countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Canada, declared a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, meaning they sent no ministers or officials to the games, in protest of China’s human rights violations against the Uyghur Region, Tibet and Taiwan. Many countries including the U.S. have accused the Chinese government of committing human rights atrocities like forced labor and forced sterilization against the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group from the Xinjiang region of China.
A Uyghur Olympian was featured as the final torchbearer during the Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday—a move critics viewed as a message sent from the Chinese government. “By selecting a Uighur athlete to light the torch, China is trying to address criticism by the West about genocide or persecution of the Uyghurs, and about sinicization of ethnic minorities,” Ma Haiyun, an associate professor at Frostburg State University and an expert on Xinjiang, told Reuters.