Atlanta briefly : Chinese in a pickle over catering

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The Independent Online

China's Communist party newspaper has criticised the standard of the food, accommodation and weather in Atlanta. The state-run People's Daily even suggested that the unsatisfactory food in the Olympic village may not be wholly unintentional. "Finding Chinese chefs to make steamed bread, porridge, stir-fried dishes, soup and noodles shouldn't be difficult," the newspaper said yesterday. "Can it be there are some people who don't want the Chinese team members to eat well?"

It added that the accommodation was cramped and the weather too hot, but officials and athletes expressed particular anger over the lack of Chinese food. The cafeteria at the village, where the athletes are staying, serves Korean pickled cabbage and French dishes, People's Daily noted yesterday.

The Beijing Youth Daily has also reported disgruntled Chinese whispers. "This kind of food and drink situation will affect the competition," the newspaper quoted the badminton trainer Li Lingwei as saying. "The heat and humidity also makes people worried whether the athletes will be able to compete normally," the newspaper added.

Chinese athletes agreed with a television reporter yesterday that the rooms were too small and television footage from Atlanta showed rooms each crammed with two beds.

Much of the Olympic coverage in Chinese media was enthusiastic, however. Newspapers ran extensive stories on China's medal hopefuls and Chinese Central Television broadcast the entire opening ceremony live.