Giant on the move
The bin-scavenging Olympics
The Main Press Centre has a cavernous dining area with food from around the world but reporters out at the venues are typing to the sound of rumbling stomachs — with nothing more than a few nuts and berries available anywhere near the stadiums.
They’re not complaining — just hungry — and in the interest of telling you what life is really like here I thought I’d share their stories. Over to Al Himmer, our man at the basketball, who sums up the situation nicely:
Normally I wouldn’t eat a burger from a fast food joint if you paid me $100. After less than a week of the Beijing Olympics I would sell my granny for one. (Sorry, nan but you’ve had a good innings).
How much did organisers spend on these state-of-the-art facilities? I could look it up but I’m too weak. Suffice it to say it was a wodge-load of cash yet no one thought to stick in a café. I’d be willing to offload another family member for a triple tall latte and a sticky bun.
The basketball venue offers bananas at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a mystifying system for pre-ordering meals for the FOLLOWING DAY at this, and many other venues. “But I may not be hungry or have time to eat it tomorrow, and I’m hungry NOW!”
One Reuters colleague told us he’d lined up with punters for half an hour in the scorching heat for a hotdog at the tennis venue, only to be told when he reached the counter that they didn’t actually have hotdogs, or indeed anything else apart from crisps.
Another of our reporters has resorted to scavenging through the bins and yesterday she proudly informed fellow sufferers that she’d dug out a half-nibbled sandwich and half a tub of yoghurt, which she promptly wolfed down.
Other journalists, meanwhile, have it easy. The baseball writers happily tuck into burgers and slurp beers in the pressbox, while others stroll to monster shopping malls just across the road. That’s nice for them.
Now, where are those crisps?
PHOTO: Visitors buy lunch at a food court inside the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) during its opening in Beijing July 8, 2008. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV