Beijing Thursday reaffirmed the safety of food at the Olympic Games after media reports that the US contingent plans to prepare its own meals at the Games due to safety concerns.
“We’ve made great efforts to ensure safe supplies for the Games and we hope athletes dine together,” Kang Yi, chief of the food division of the Games services department, told a press conference. “If the US delegation is not at these gatherings, I would personally regret it,” she said.
Some foreign media including The New York Times reported earlier this month that the US Olympic Committee had arranged with sponsors to ship about 11,000 kg of lean protein to Beijing for the Games in response to concerns about the potential impact of veterinary drugs and insecticides on athletes. But Kang said her division had received no formal notification from the US regarding the plan.
She also made it clear that according to established international practice, foreign athletes cannot take their own food into the Olympic Village.
Tang Yunhua, spokeswoman for the Beijing municipal office for food safety, also said such worries were unwarranted.
She said the city had spent nearly three years developing an extensive monitoring and supervision system over the entire supply chain from breeders to slaughterhouses and distribution trucks.
“We’re very confident and capable of offering safe food for the Games,” she said, adding that quality controls adopted by the city before the Olympics now exceed international standards.
In response to fears that antibiotics and growth stimulants used by some breeders to boost yields could lead to positive doping tests, officials said there was no evidence to prove it.
“Globally, there have been no scientific reports that show drug tests yield positive results after athletes or people eat certain types of meat,” Lu Yong, director of the Beijing municipal food safety monitoring center, told the press conference.
“China has very strict rules. Forbidden drugs cannot be used in breeding, so we can guarantee safety,” he said.
Beijing families vie to make Olympics guests feel at home
Zoo worker Zhang Yizhuo was frolicking with his one-year-old son on the drawing room rug as his wife played a serenade nearby on a piano.
This ordinary Beijing family is one of those who have applied to be a homestay host for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Zhang, who works at the Beijing Zoo, lives in the Anhuili Community near the “Bird’s Nest”, the main stadium for the Beijing Olympics. He filed the application a year ago in hopes that his home would become one of the 1,000 officially designated “Olympic Family Hotels”.
The Beijing-bred man was confident: his family has two clean sunlit rooms and fluent English proficiency.
“I know so much about animals such as pandas and golden monkeys that I can get along very well with anyone who likes these creatures,” he said confidently. “I can even take my guests to the zoo to see how I work with lovely animals,” he added.
Zhang’s wife, a piano teacher, planned to soothe the guests’ ears with Chinese and foreign classics.” As animals and music are universal topics among all people, I am sure that we can have excellent communication with our guests,” she said.
Zhang works as an enrichment specialist at the zoo. He explained that his job was “creating a comfortable environment to address an animal’s psychological and physical needs.”
“Even animals prefer a comfortable living environment, let alone a traveler newly transplanted into a totally different culture,” he said. “I want to make them feel as if they were at home,” he added.
The selection of the homestay families will start in March, according to the Beijing Tourist Bureau.
Hosts should be able to provide foreign guests with spare rooms, good ventilation and sanitary conditions in buildings that have good fire fighting conditions, emergency lighting and so forth, said Xiong Yumei, deputy director of the bureau.
Beijing is gearing up to accommodate at least 330,000 visitors every day during the Olympics. About 500,000 foreigners are expected to visit the capital at some point during the games, along with huge numbers of domestic tourists.
“There will be sufficient beds, with the city’s hotels able to accommodate more than 640,000 people every day,” Xiong said.
The cost of each “Olympic Family Hotel” is 50 to 80 dollars per night, only seventh to a regular hotel room for the Games
By Austin Thomas in China