‘Closed-loop’ Olympians celebrate unusual Valentine’s Day at Beijing Olympics


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'Closed-loop' Olympians celebrate unusual Valentine's Day at Beijing Olympics

‘Closed-loop’ Olympians celebrate unusual Valentine’s Day at Beijing Olympics

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YANQING, China, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Valentine’s Day is usually about delivering romantic gestures and passionate kisses in person, but Olympians at the “closed-loop” Beijing Olympics have to be creative in limited circumstances to express their love.

With complete isolation from the outside world, thousands of athletes, staff and media inside the COVID-19-protected Olympic bubble are expected to insist on continued mask wearing and social distancing.

For Austrian snowboarder Sabine Scheffmann, 29, and her partner Alexander Payer, 32, mandatory daily testing for the virus led to their second heartbreaking Olympics.

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After missing the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics due to injury, Scheffman returned to Beijing and tested positive for the coronavirus, preventing her from competing. Payet had to spend his second Olympics alone in competitions and then go home.

“I look forward to the human touch when I get home the most,” Scheffman said before her Valentine’s Day flight from Beijing to Milan, where Payer will pick her up after a five-hour drive from Austria.

She added that it was “nervous” to wait for a second negative COVID-19 test to release her from the quarantine hotel.

“Then there was a knock on the door, and the volunteer in charge of my case stood there in a white hazmat suit and told me I should get ready and the car came,” Shefman said.

say with flowers

The ice events of the Beijing Olympics are also full of couples.

Tim Koleto, a 30-year-old American-born Japanese ice dancer who attended the Olympics with his wife Misato Komatsubara, 29, said he bought some flowers to celebrate the festival. “Fortunately, there’s a florist here,” in “closed loop,” Koleto said.

Spanish ice dancer Adrian Diaz, 31, said he was going to Beijing with gifts as he competed with his fiancée, American dancer Madison Hubbell, 30, on Valentine’s Day.

“It’s nice to know that once I’ve done what I’m supposed to be doing here, I can go and spend time with her,” Diaz said.

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics volunteer Stella distributes a red rose to journalists and staff leaving a “closed loop” hotel at the Taiwu ski resort in Zhangjiakou, China, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Emily Roe

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British speed skating couple Ellia Smeding, 23, and Cornelius Kersten, 27, started a coffee business to fund their Olympic dreams, and Valentine’s Day was an afterthought.

When asked if he had anything planned for the big day, Smeding asked Kirsten, “Well, do you have any special plans?” before the couple burst into laughter.

“I don’t think I really realize (it’s going to be Valentine’s Day),” Smeding said. “No, I completely forgot about it before you said it,” Kirsten added.

The couple will have to get creative and find a way to celebrate the day romantically at the Athlete’s Village.

“We have to go on a date at KFC…it’s the only thing we can really do in the village – we’re going to have KFC or pizza,” Smeding said.

“Yeah, maybe we’ll go get a romantic haircut together,” jokes Kersten.

separate days

In the skeleton, Brazilian racing driver Nicole Rocha Silveira, 27, has been dating and competing with Belgian Kim Meylemans, 25. They met three years ago when Silveira was volunteering at a World Cup event in Belgium.

“I’m going home on the 14th, so unfortunately this year we’re going to spend it (Valentine’s Day) separately…I kind of hope, don’t tell anyone, it’s going to be canceled,” Silvera Talking about her flight.

American ice dancers Caitlin Hawayek, 25, and Jean-Luc Baker, 28, think about their pets on their day of love.

“We all have dogs,” Baker said. “None of us have partners,” Hawayek said. “We want our dogs here.”

New Zealand snowboarder Thiane Collins, 22, had to take a more practical approach to dating this year.

When asked who he was thinking about on Valentine’s Day, he said social distancing and wearing a mask was hard, adding: “Hopefully I get a bunch of fan girls.”

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Reporting by Krystal Wu, Emily Roe, Yiming Woo, Nathalie Thomas, Tim Hart, Ilze Filks, David Kirton, Simon Jennings, Shadia Nasralla, Sakura Murakami; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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