It Takes a Village to Run the Olympics
Transporting horses to Beijing for Olympic equestrian events and housing and feeding thousands of athletes are among the many challenges for those who handle the logistics.
Long, expensive flights has made just getting to Beijing a hassle for some Olympians. And although the logistics of transporting equipment—air rifles, bows and arrows, bicycles, swords, helmets, shoes, swimsuits—are not always easy, it can be a lot more difficult when your equipment is a horse.
The U.S. equestrian team’s horses arrived in Beijing about a week before the games, NBC reported. The horses probably have more frequent flyer miles than most people, as they travel approximately 30,000 miles by plane annually, according to Tim Dutta of Dutta Corporation, a horse transportation company.
Horses must arrive at the airport 10 hours early and be monitored in quarantine for five hours. They travel in stalls similar to horse trailers you’d see on the road. They travel on passenger flights as well as cargo flights.
“It freaks people out because we sit up front with the passengers and we keep going back to check on the horses,” said Jenny Wood, a groom who travels with an Olympic horse. “And you come back you have hay on you and people are like ‘I’m sorry, where you have you been?’ and they find out and they’re like, ‘Oh my God! There are horses on the plane? Is that safe? I can’t believe there are horses on a plane!’ It’s quite funny.”
The human members of Team USA were using a training headquarters at Beijing Normal University built by the U.S. Olympic Committee, according to Beijing Review. Athletes can exercise, eat and stay at the center, which is similar to one the USOC built for the 2004 games in Athens. Once the games began, however, most of Team USA moved to Olympic Village, a 3,000-apartment complex, with the competitors from other countries.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle described Olympic Village on a recent tour. The village has a dining hall capable of feeding 5,000 people at once. It is open 24 hours a day and has 120 chefs from more than a dozen countries preparing 1,000 dishes. So far, Peking duck has been popular, said Catherine Toolan of Aramark, the food service company feeding the village.
Food was a bit of a touchy subject in the run-up to the games. First, the USOC said it would bring its own food and water amid safety concerns. Then Beijing’s organizers said Australian team members couldn’t bring their own food, including vegemite, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Nicole Saunches, a spokesperson for the USOC, told Beijing Review that the United States is shipping less food to China than it did to Athens. Those Team USA members in Olympic Village will eat the food there, according to the Review.
California growers are shipping 450 pounds of strawberries because China’s athletes said they wanted the fruit during the Games, NBC reports. The country’s strawberry season ended in spring, but the fruit is available throughout the year in California.