Are there really only three days left of the Olympics? That might actually be beneficial for me. I'm pretty sure I qualify for federal assistance at this point, because I guarantee you that I'm addicted. If you haven't been watching it as religiously as I have though, you might not realize that many of the athletes stay in what's called the Olympic Village. And do you know what they have there? Freebies upon freebies upon glorious freebies.
So while you and I have zero access to them, I thought it might be cool to list the awesome freebies that some of the world's finest athletes are enjoying right now.
You'd think that elite athletes would eat nothing but healthy food during their training and for the most part, you'd be correct. However, since it takes a ton of work to make it to the Olympics, most athletes tend to take a break once they're finished competing and enjoy the finer aspects of dining. As Australian swimmer Melanie Schlanger put it, “There are vending machines everywhere, and the dining hall has McDonalds ((http://olympics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/15/a-steady-diet-of-medals-and-fast-food/?scp=8&sq=olympic%20village&st=cse)), as well as piles of Snickers bars and freezers full of ice creams.” ((http://www.thedaily.com.au/news/2008/aug/06/mel-spree/)) If there's one thing I excel at, it's eating unlimited amounts of Snickers. In fact, they should make that an Olympic event just so I could go and win a few medals.
Of course, there's more than just junk food and candy. The Village has a ginormous cafeteria stocked with every food imaginable: fresh fruits, veggies, meat, breads, drinks, and everything else imaginable. ((http://centercircle.ussoccer.com/fullStory.jsp_1-8912898.html)) If they don't have what you want, chances are one of the dozens of chefs cooking will be able to whip it up for you. As a matter of fact, I tried to apply for a spot as one of the chefs, but was told that my peanut butter & jelly sandwich specialty was already covered by somebody else.
The athletes don't have to worry about tainted food, either. After fears that commonly used pesticides and growth hormones might seep into the foods and trigger false positives during Olympic drug testing, China set up hundreds of organic farms to specifically grow food for the Olympians. However, they even went one step further and set up a tracking system for every single food item. ((http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=5419184&page=1)) So if a track star from Uganda thinks that carrot he just ate tasted a little funny, it'll be no trouble to track it's history and see where it was grown and who handled it.
A quick side note: guess how many apples will be eaten in the cafeteria? An estimated one million. ((http://www.healthcastle.com/sports_olympics_diet.shtml)) Or to put it another way, they'll eat about 936,000 bananas, which is enough to circle the Olympic marathon route more than three times. (Photo from China Daily ((http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2008-08/12/content_6927800.htm)))
Athletes spend so much time training that they sometimes run out of time to take care of all those superficial needs. Then they suddenly arrive to the games and remember that a few billion people are about to watch them compete. Luckily, they can get a free hair cut, eye examination, manicure, and pedicure ((http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3542949)) to spic and span themselves up for all of those cameras. I mean, if you're going to smash a few world records, why not look your best while doing so?
Of course, what if an athlete gets seriously ill? No worries as there are 200 physicians on staff at the free village clinic. ((http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=oly&id=3520204)) I wonder if there are any veterinarians on staff for the equestrian horses. If I was a betting man, I'd put my life savings on yes.
Free Decked Out Rooms
When I travel abroad, I'm lucky if I stay in a place with running water. When Olympians travel to the games, they stay in rooms equipped with a wideband line (what the heck is that?), a telephone, network and closed-circuit TV (so they can watch every event live), an infrared burglar-proof warning device and a fingerprint lock. You know, on second thought, that sounds better than the places I live here in the states! Well at least they won't be able to drink the tap water…what? Oh, they can drink the tap water. Doh.
Each country tends to have their own cluster of apartments as well, which are identifiable by the giant national flags they tend to unfurl out of the windows. So there's the German complex, the Polish complex, etc. As the games start to wind down and everybody has finished competing, it's pretty easy to image most of them morphing into giant party complexes.
After the games end, the rooms will be cleaned and then sold for upwards of $1 million dollars each. ((http://www.wtop.com/?nid=105&sid=1447507)) I can count the number of times I've stayed for free in a place worth a million bucks on one hand – never! (Photo from LA Times ((http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-fg-village-pg,0,2747776.photogallery?index=3)))
Library? Oh yeah. Internet cafe? Check. Amphitheater, shopping centers, coffee shops, gardens and gyms? ((http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=oly&id=3520204)) Ok, this isn't fair. My own home town isn't even this fun. How do the athletes even find time to go to their events? I'm pretty sure if I was staying over there, I'd miss every one of my events. In fact, I'd still be hanging out after everybody had long returned home. It's like a freaking freebies paradise over there.
Upon hearing about the Internet cafes, I started to wonder if HIF was available in China. Long story short, the Chinese government built a system dubbed The Great Firewall of China that blocks anybody in China from visiting a site deemed to have “inappropriate” content. Billions of sites are blocked but after checking around, it turns out HIF is working in China! So does that mean Kobe Bryant and the rest of the American Olympic delegation are sitting around ordering freebies from HIF? My imagination says heck yes.
Free Language Lessons
There's nothing quite like knowing the language that can make or break a meeting with a local. Carry on a simple conversation in their native tongue and chances are they'll be impressed. Ask them why their cheese house is depressed and they'll probably think you're an idiot. Fingers crossed Michael Phelps took a few free Chinese lessons ((http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/olympics/2008-08/20/content_6952028.htm)) and used them to impress even more people.
Let's see, there are a little more than 16,000 athletes and coaches staying in the Village and the Beijing Olympic Committee expects to go through 100,000 free condoms. ((http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSSP13655720080812)) You do the very sexy math.
I'm so finding a way into the 2012 Olympic Village. Anybody want to start training with me to get on the water polo team?