Food shouldn't be a problem for J'can athletes at Olympics

Food shouldn't be a problem for J'can athletes at Olympics

...says Anderson

BY INGRID BROWN Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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ALTHOUGH a personal cook is not allowed to stay with teams in the Olympic Village, Jamaica's chef de mission Don Anderson says the Jamaican delegation should not have a problem finding familiar food to eat during this summer's games in London.

Anderson, who will be in charge of the 90-member delegation, said given the facilities which have been constructed to host the games, the dining experience at the London Games should be even better than at previous Olympics.

He explained that the dining room in the village at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 seated 5,000 persons and housed some 30 food stations consisting of cuisine from all cultural diversities.

Given that the succeeding host country always seeks to outdo the previous, Anderson said the offerings in London are expected to be even more and better.

"... So nobody can say they can't find food that they will be able to eat," Anderson told reporters and editors at this week's Observer Monday Exchange held at the newspaper's head offices in Kingston.

Anderson explained further that there are no provisions for a cook once the team gets into the village and neither can any special meal requests be made.

"For the pre-Olympic training camp we can have a cook, and GraceKennedy is providing a lot of food for that, but once you go into the village no country in the world will be able to take any cooking provision into the village," he said.

However, the group can only hope they will be as lucky in London as they were in Beijing to discover a Jamaican in charge of the food preparation for the company which was contracted to provide the catering services.

As for the delegation's housing accommodation inside the village, Anderson said they are first class. "We are satisfied that the accommodation is going to be first class because in Beijing it was absolutely first class," he said, explaining that the London Village consists of all newly constructed apartments, some of which are 10 storeys high. As such, he dismissed reports that there are athletes who have requested to be housed outside of the village.

According to Anderson, there have been past situations where athletes have sought approval to live outside of the village, but this was never encouraged as a team effort is being promoted.

Given the quality accommodation within the village, Anderson said there is hardly any reason for such a request to be made this time around.

Meanwhile, although Jamaica is not granted any special privileges at the Olympics, the worldwide recognition gained by the indomitable team of track and field athletes has been known to offer some perks to delegations at previous games.

"In Beijing we thought the Chinese were inflexible because when we got there we were allowed 14 visitor passes per day, which is a normal requirement... and for the first week we could not get a single one more than 14. But once we started to win Gold medals we realised the Chinese were a little less inflexible," explained Anderson.

He said that by the time Usain Bolt had won his second gold medal, Jamaica was allowed to have about 34 people in the village one day.

As for the possibility of Jamaica ever hosting an Olympic Games, Anderson said the cost makes it virtually prohibitive, with one of the challenges being the cadre of volunteers that would be needed.

"The guy who carried around my bag everyday in at the Sydney Olympics, although I kept telling him it's okay I am not accustomed to not carrying my own bag, was the Government's agricultural quarantine specialist, a doctor... but this guy volunteered because they understand process," Anderson said.

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