We are back from Beijing, so it’s time to talk about all of the things we couldn’t get to while we were in China! Coming along for the fun are contributors Book Club Claire and Superfan Sarah. We talk with them about the US experience vs. the China experience, as well as:

  • More bus issues
  • A scare at the airport
  • The Russia situation
  • The “Green” Games
  • So much security
  • Entering and leaving the warm embrace of the Closed Loop

And here’s one of the cute PSA highway signs Jill was talking about:

Highway sign with cartoon cars warning don't drive when tired.

Plus, our regular features are back! We head to TKFLASTAN for news from Team Keep the Flame Alive members:

  • Erin Jackson
  • Lauren Gibbs
  • Clare Egan
  • Kelly Claes
  • Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea
  • Bradley Wilson
  • Tony Azevedo
  • Laura Wilkinson
  • Ginny Fuchs
  • Steve Emt
  • Kim Rhode


Unfortunately, we also have doping news (from London 2012, no less), and an update on the Kamila Valieva investigation.

Paris 2024 has announced its ticketing program, and members of Le Club will get first crack.

And Milan-Cortina has provided details about its mascot competition.

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


Note: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and likely contains errors. Please use the audio file as the record of note.

[00:00:00] Jill: Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you? You’re through the screen now. You’re over there. You’re away.

[00:00:44] Alison: I know. I’m not through the plexiglass anymore. I miss you.

[00:00:47] Jill: I miss you too. It’s so weird.

[00:00:51] Alison: And I mentioned this to you yesterday. I keep thinking to myself. Oh, I’ll tell Jill when I see her later, but I’m not going to see you later.

[00:01:01] Jill: Yeah. That’s it’s, it’s a bummer. I will tell you that. The coming back transition is definitely real for sure. I mean, I really want a good breakfast. I need some boa. I need some breakfast casserole. I need some chicken nuggets.

[00:01:17] Alison: We do miss omelet man. I mean, it’s great to be home. I was only gone two and a half weeks. You were gone a month and a half, so I’m sure for you, it’s a bigger transition, but I’m still having trouble adjusting to the time. I’m still having a trouble adjusting to not having my beautiful breakfast spread.

[00:01:32] Jill: Exactly. I did put like 16 pounds of stuff in a backpack and went for a walk yesterday.

[00:01:40] Alison: I do miss my Chinese Snickers. Yes, that’s in a bowl in the workroom at curling.

[00:01:47] Jill: Yes, I don’t miss the crackers all that much to be quite honest.

[00:01:52] Alison: No, I don’t miss the crackers.

[00:01:54] Jill: I still, I have a package of the cheese and sea salt ones, which I did enjoy those. I know that they weren’t your favorites, but I will eat them at some point.

[00:02:03] Alison: I would just like some volunteers to help me with some things in my house with their lovely smiles and their pins. And, you know, I could use a friendly volunteer right now, but I haven’t gotten lost.

[00:02:18] Jill: That’s good.

[00:02:20] Alison: Since I got home I haven’t had any trouble with toilets. I haven’t hulked through any doors. I haven’t fallen or taken a header trapped on a mountain. So I say that’s a pretty successful transition.

[00:02:38] Jill: Indeed, indeed. And I can’t believe we’ve been home for about a week now at this point.

[00:02:45] Alison: I still have things all over the floor and still going through stuff and still going through my pins, trying to find places for everything.

My daughter tried to claim my Shuey Rhon Rhon doll. I said no. I love you, but not that much. The dog tried to take it because I was on the floor, unpacking everything. And she came over and gave it a sniff. And I said, no, I don’t love you that much either.

[00:03:16] Jill: Well, if you were a Kickstarter supporter, the location scout category, where you would get a postcard, I believe those are starting to hit the US right now. So be on the lookout in your mailbox, hopefully you will get yours soon. Hopefully the stamp is still on it and the glue did not fail.

[00:03:34] Alison: That was such a strange experience when she handed me the pot of glue for my postcards that I was sending. Thankfully, you had explained that they’re not lick stamps. You have to glue them like it’s 1921. And I did not have glue technique.

[00:03:54] Jill: Oh no, I didn’t either.

[00:03:56] Alison: I did not know what I was doing, but it did feel healthier that I wasn’t licking the glue.

[00:04:01] Jill: Yeah, that I did appreciate. And hopefully the postcards aren’t like ripped off on the picture side because I did stack them. I, you know, I had to wipe the excess glue off of everything and then I was trying to stack them because then the stamps did kind of curl up a little bit and I was afraid they would fall off. So there was, it was a process. I will tell you that.

[00:04:21] Alison: And we thankfully had a very large table at the post office area that we could sort of spread out and it was prior to the insane shipping line. You had a little separate line. Yes.

[00:04:35] Jill: Yes, definitely. That was, that was good.

Wanted to say thank you to everyone who participated in our red envelope campaign and who signed up to be new Patreon patrons during Beijing 2022. We are crunching numbers right now. It was, I think it was pretty successful. That’s very good. I’m just really excited about this and see what we can cover and what we’ll put towards things for Paris 2024.

So, as we said, we are still on a high from Beijing, so we wanted to talk about it with our contributors Super Fan Sarah and Book Club Claire. This is part one of our conversation because I did not realize that we had talked for over two hours until I looked at the time and saw it was over two hours. So we’re going to split this conversation into two parts. Part one is going to be right now. So take a listen.

Claire and Sarah, welcome back. We are home from Beijing. Ready to talk about what we just experienced for the last couple of months. What did you guys think of Beijing here?

[00:05:46] Claire: I really loved it. I loved what I saw. I loved the athletic events. I loved watching all the medal winners. I appreciated that there were fans in the stands.

It was always though with this sense that there was something happening in the background that you weren’t quite sure what was going on. But I enjoyed it and I think I enjoyed the Paralympics even more than ever, just because there were fewer events even in the Winter Olympics. So it was very easy for me to follow for me to get attached to certain athletes.

Overall it was a, it was a good time. I loved to be able to tweet it out. And I loved that I knew people that were there. I thought that was wonderful.

[00:06:31] Sarah: Yeah. So overall. Pretty positive. I think what’s hard is that Tokyo felt amazing and wonderful, you know, despite challenges that happen there as well, but to go from Tokyo and then to have Beijing only six months later was hard, because you never want to compare summer and winter. You don’t want to compare opening ceremonies from one city to another host city, but it almost seemed impossible not to do that just because Tokyo was so fresh.

So I, I feel like I have to remind myself that I was looking at it through that lens, even if subconsciously. I agree with Claire, it was easier to follow the Paralympics, I think. So that was really exciting, I think for us, because we love the Paralympics. Obviously there’s a lot of things that were clouding the Olympics and Paralympics.

And then I’m sure we’ll talk about it. And I know everyone’s talking about Ukraine, but it was just heavy, especially by the time that the Paralympics came around. So it’s hard. It’s kind of hard to feel like, oh, everything was wonderful because there were so many things going on, figure skating. I know we’ll get into all of that, but I am just grateful that we still got to have the Olympics. We got to have the Paralympics. I’m grateful that for the most part, it seems that athletes are home. They’re safe. They’re okay. That y’all are back, talking about Jill and Alison.

So I, so I’m grateful that we’re all on this side of it, and that athletes were able to still have a big Olympic experience. Even if it’s not the same one that they may have dreamed of forever, at least we got to have it.

[00:08:08] Jill: Yeah, no, it’s good. We were lucky to get home. I will say. One would think it would have been fine. But I was thinking about this yesterday, today about the bus ride from the hotel to the airport because, so they had coach buses to take us to the airport and you, they had your flights on a board and they told you, this is what time the bus leaves. So our flight was at like four in the afternoon. So our bus left at 11, 11:15. And there were going to be five people on our bus and like 12 pieces of luggage. Well, it’s just me and Alison on the bus. We don’t know what happened to the other people, but there was a bus not that long before us. And we figured that they just hopped on that one.

So we get on and there are like four volunteers who escort us out and help us with our bags. And they know us by now. They all have our pins and we have signed their little book of, you know, memories of Beijing or what did you think of our services. And they’re like, you’re Jill and Alison. So they help us out with the luggage. The luggage is heavy. We get on the bus. I am insistent on sitting on the left side because this is my last chance to try to add to my collection of PSA signs on the highway. They were adorable little cartoon things that had like don’t drink and drive. So there was a car with like a bottle out of its window and little bubbles around it. And then like the universal no sign. There was a don’t drive while tired. There was a giraffe in a car that said, don’t go over the height. And then there was an elephant in the car that said, don’t go over the weight. And then there was one that I had, I’ve emailed myself what it said, because it was like drive safely for a harmonious Beijing. And I’d only see that on the way to the Capitol Indoor Stadium. And I always, always forget to take a picture of it. So I had to write down the phrase, but I love these signs. They were so cute. And I was like, okay, I’m sitting on the left side, Alison.

So I’m on the left; Alison parks on the right. The seats on the bus are pretty close together. So you don’t get a whole lot of legroom and, and I’ve plopped like three bags into my seat. I have my big gray poncho, my backpack and my carry-on purse. All my carry on stuff is in the seat. And then I try to get out to wave goodbye to the volunteers and the floor is wet. My legs just start going like a cartoon character and I’m flapping my legs. I can’t get out. It was so bad. So I finally wiggle my way out somehow and slide my way over to wave goodbye to the volunteers. And then I’m crying too, because I don’t want to say goodbye to them, but I’m happy to go home.

And then we get to where we’re going. And of course, it’s so exciting. This bus ride is so exciting because it’s a part of Beijing we’ve never seen. And I’m hanging, like I’m standing up in my chair as best I can. I’m clinging to the seat in front of me so that I don’t slip and fall. I cannot find any more PSA signs, but it’s like, oh my gosh. There’s like the Tibetan Museum of Culture. There’s this. Oh, oh, it’s a shopping mall. Oh, it’s a parking garage. Oh, there’s people out. What is all this magic?

And we finally get into the airport and again, I can’t get out of my seat. I don’t know how I did it. I could still be there. So we get out, we get all of our stuff. We go and we check in, we check in, we have our luggage weighed and I had, I had to order an extra bag and they were like, Hey dude, you know, you only get two bags. I’m like, I have a receipt for bag number three. They’re like, oh, okay. So we, we had to go check our bags in elsewhere, and we plop them on the smart carts and we’re walking around.

And we are in terminal E. Terminal E is totally closed off to everybody else. We did see one little bridge section that had stores that were open, like a KFC and stuff, but we could not access it at all, but everything else in terminal E is shut down and everybody working there was in hazmat suits and we’re pushing around our cart trying to figure out where the luggage goes.

And there’s a table with baskets of snacks that you could take for the flight, because they knew you weren’t going to get food and you couldn’t get food in the terminal. So we push our way towards them and what happens, Alison?

[00:12:56] Alison: So we had to have this code, this QR code that we had to do ahead of time to prove that we had submitted our COVID tests and that we had submitted our customs forms.So at various points, they were checking our code.

So there was a woman standing on the right side and she was checking Jill’s code. And then all of a sudden, this other woman pops up on the other side. She had been kneeling down on the ground against a white wall in her white hazmat suit. And I didn’t see her. Well I jump and scream. She screams. And then we both just start hysterically laughing and then she starts to look at my QR code and I look at her and I say, boo, and then we all start laughing again. And you know, she’s apologizing profusely as much as you can through mask, shield, hazmat suit. And, and she didn’t really speak much English, but clearly the, we are both being ridiculous right now is an international language. And we could not, she could not stop laughing long enough to check the QR code and I couldn’t stop laughing enough to get it on my screen.

[00:14:05] Jill: It was bad. And, and so we got snacks and then we got to a point where you couldn’t take the cart anymore. I’m like, well, this is obviously not the luggage drop off. So they tell us where to go, put the luggage in. It gets x-rayed. I of course have a wifi hotspot that I wasn’t able to use for most of the time, because they did not like those. And that had to come out of my suitcase, I think, and into my carry on.

So we finally got rid of the luggage, haul ourselves, and of course it’s kind of warm and I have my big poncho and my heavy backpack and a purse that’s got stuff in it too. And we get through one round of security. With x-rays and scanners and you get your body wanded. We got our bodies wanded all the time, so this is nothing new.

Then there’s one other person with us who works for OBS and we get on the airport train. Alison and I were so excited to take another form of transportation. We’re like we get to ride the airport train. This woman looks at us like, what is wrong with you two? We’ve been here for a long time. She probably had been there longer than me. And I was just so excited to ride something else, something, and it’s a, it’s an airport train. It’s, it’s nothing different.

So we finally get to the gate or the, the terminal. Everything is shut down. We go and we sit at our gate and then it’s like every once in a while, we had like four hours to kill. And you just ended up walking up and down. And I was at the point in the trip where I was recognizing different Chinese characters. So I would walk down the Concourse and I would just stop and stare at a sign and try to pick something out and like, oh, the cameras are gonna love me. Just staring at signs. Walked around, found bathrooms. Walked in places that I probably shouldn’t have been going, because then I like turned a corner and it was magical. Like here’s the food court kind of thing, all shut down. Here’s the little cultural exhibit all shut down. And it, yeah, it was a long time in the airport.

[00:16:18] Alison: I was at the point in the trip where I just laid down on a bench and went to sleep.

[00:16:21] Jill: She did.

[00:16:22] Alison: I was so exhausted and I’m not a person who can sleep easily in places, but I was just done.

And it’s not like I was nervous because everybody who was in that terminal, there were two flights going out. So there was maybe two, three dozen people. There was only about 20 people on our flight and it was all these OBS guys who we had seen before. And so I’m like, okay, what are they going to do to me while I’m sleeping on a bench? Right. I know where they work. You know, it was just, it was such a strange feeling to be in an airport and yet feel like you’re in your office.

It was this weird, safe, unsafe feeling. And I would say this was true the whole time we were there. I always felt safe in the sense of, I never was scared of street crime. You know, we were walking around the middle of a city at midnight alone. And I’d never felt unsafe because there’s a military policeman standing right there watching me. So it was this very odd feeling of, I feel safe from street crime and mugging and any of those kinds of things. But I feel very unsafe because we’re always being watched. So it was this very odd dichotomy.

[00:17:53] Jill: Yeah. And it was one of those in that, the workroom, like when I first got there, I didn’t know what to do. And I got to the workroom and I was like, well, I worked for a little bit. And then it was like lunchtime. I’m like, well, I guess I pack everything up and take it with me to the dining hall.

And it wasn’t until later that day I realized that people just, this was an office and people just left, you left your stuff on the table, no matter what. And you went and go, went to lunch and then you came back and hopefully nothing happened to it.

[00:18:25] Alison: And nothing ever did.

[00:18:27] Jill: No.

[00:18:28] Alison: We never had a wire stolen. We never had a toggle missing. We never had any, anything of even greater value. I mean, we left the mics there, we left our computers there. And I wonder if that would be true because we haven’t yet had this experience. Would that be true in the Paris workroom? Would that be true in the Los Angeles workroom? Would that be true if there wasn’t a closed loop?

[00:18:52] Jill: I kind of think it would in a sense, because you’d have to go through security to get into that venue and to the media center and you’d have to have the right credentials to get in there. And then you’re all in the same boat. So you, I wonder if it’s don’t screw your fellow journalist. I don’t know, but yeah, that was getting home.

And then of course, like on the first flight out of Beijing, they weren’t allowed to give in-flight service. We had this on the way there. They gave you a snack bag and water, and it’s a six hour flight from Beijing to Singapore. And that was going to be the same deal on the way back. But let me tell you, those flight attendants were like, if need anything, just like, do you need a Coke? Okay, I’ll go. If you need another one, let me know.

[00:19:41] Alison: I slept on that flight too.

[00:19:44] Jill: And then I will say last airport thing. Our flight from Singapore to New York was supposed to go over China, over probably Kazakhstan or Mongolia, over Russia. And we didn’t. That’s how we got that’s how I got there. That’s how you got there too, or…

[00:20:06] Alison: No, at the time I came over, my flight was. I’m going to get my east and west confused, but it was diverted to that it did not fly over Russia.

[00:20:15] Jill: Right. And then we were diverted on the way home. We flew over Philippines and Japan and through the Bering Strait and then over Alaska and Canada from the west to the east, rather than going over Russia and Europe to like Labrador down, it was like, whoa, this is different. But very interesting. Sign of the times.

[00:20:40] Alison: Which is a good segue to talk a little bit about Ukraine. Here’s what I want to know because we were both in China by the time that announcement for the Paralympics happened. So what was the news here as to, not Russian because they were competing as the Russian Paralympic Committee, and Belarus being banned?

[00:21:03] Sarah: So at first, you know, the Russian Paralympic Committee was going to compete along with athletes from Belarus. And there was a lot of outrage. Now we take that with a grain of salt. That one thing that I was reminded of it’s the Beijing games for both the Olympics and Paralympics, several people that were coming at me saying, I can’t believe the Olympics are happening, or the Paralympics are happening in China. I’m not watching. Well, a lot of these people weren’t going to watch anyways. So they’re kind of always looking for that outrage thing, which to be fair. I think outrage over this situation in Ukraine is appropriate. But there was, there was a lot of outrage, a lot of anger that they would compete and then it was breaking news. It seemed everywhere I saw, that enough athletes spoke out, said I’m not competing if they get to compete. And that was that.

So from the Paralympic viewpoint it seemed like everyone thought, oh, they got it right. That decision is the best decision. I mean, we know the athletes don’t make the decisions that their leaders are making.We understand that. However, we also know the history that they’re the Russian Paralympic Committee, because Russia never gets actually punished for anything. So, I mean, it seems for the athletes that they were there ready to go and got kicked out, but also, I don’t know if there was another option, you know, and especially, I think if people like Oksana Masters and her story and other athletes that, I mean, think about Ukraine, the Ukrainian athletes that were there. I don’t blame them whatsoever for not wanting to compete with the Russian Paralympic Committee there. And, and again, not just the whole Ukraine situation, which again, I totally am outraged with everyone else on that. But just being reminded that with everything going on with doping, the Olympics that had just happened, why does Russia keep getting to show up and, you know, a ban that is not really a ban?

So it was obviously something that I agree with that decision that was made to not let them compete, but it seems like everyone from this side and we’re here in the United States. So I know that we also have it through that lens, but it seemed like everyone was happy that that decision was made. Claire, I don’t know if you want to say anything else about that.

[00:23:33] Claire: Just that, it was weird because I found out that they were banned from you guys. I was on Instagram and I was like, oh, Flame Alive had something. And I clicked on it and it said Russia and Belarus banned. I went Oh, and then I immediately went to Twitter and then scroll down over and it had just come out that time.

So, it was very interesting because when the IPC put out their official statements for both of the declarations within 24 hours of each other, I read the comments for the first 20, just to kind of see what everybody was doing. And the first one was just, we’re still gonna allow the athletes to compete, but under a neutral flag. And yeah, it was basically outraged the whole way through. And then out of curiosity, when they were fully banned, I looked at tweets again and most said, oh, good. You know, this is a wise choice, finally, you know, way to finally come to your senses.

But there were people that said, how dare you take this out on the athletes? Like, you don’t get it. It’s, this is what has been causing the problem all along when it comes to allow in, like Sarah said, allowing Russia to compete, even though they have shown no remorse for anything that they had done to not only do the things that they do on a worldwide scale, but also the things that they do on the athletic scale. And it makes it incredibly frustrating for people who just love sports to see that kind of stuff. So it was, it was interesting to see that.

Unfortunately after that ban like any other news from the Paralympics on main sites died. I didn’t see anything else about the Paralympics, which was super disappointing. And that has less to say about the, the IPC and NBC’s broadcasting than just the stupidity of mainstream media, not taking it seriously yet. So that’s, that’s a whole different story.

[00:25:28] Alison: And the absence of mainstream media, which we noted while we were there, that there were some really big outlets who had nobody there. So they were relying just on you know, Reuters and, and AP and whatever they got over the wires and not doing any of their own reporting. And that surprises me that in the sense of, because Ukraine was so successful at the Paralympics. They were the second most decorated country behind China. That that didn’t get more play. Because that’s such a made for feel-good story of here are these people overcoming.

[00:26:04] Claire: And Ukraine is known for being really good at the Winter Paralympics. They did that four years ago in Pyeongchang. So there, there was that thread that you could follow, but people just chose not to. And it was frustrating because it was so great to see Ukrainian athletes, especially the biathletes do such an amazing job and be second only to China, which is a different story entirely.

So I tend to, I tend to ignore the host countries when it comes to medal tabulations. I just, I just throw them out and I just look at everybody else. I do that for every Olympics and Paralympics, but China especially for the Paralympics.

[00:26:43] Sarah: Yeah, and I think it’s hard to say. I would be very curious, and this is in a whole world that we’ll never have access to, but if the Russian invasion of Ukraine had not happened, I’m curious to know if we would have seen more mainstream coverage. And, you know, we knew that they were that mainstream media was not going to send as many people. Like we already knew that; that was established.

You know, I tweeted a lot during the Olympics about USA Today and their team that was being so engaging and so wonderful. And I remember asking, Hey, are you guys going to do this for the Paralympics too? And you know, they said, no, we won’t have people there, but we’ll still be bringing content and blah, blah, blah, and not to knock their team because I really do think that their engagement during the Olympics should be commended. I didn’t see much from them at all. So, you know, is that a side effect of Ukraine or is it a side effect of, well, it’s just not as important to us and it’s one of those things that we’ll just never know, because I do think that I saw more Paralympic coverage.

If I was at a restaurant or, you know, I was seeing it. I know a lot of people have been posting that I was seeing more coverage than ever before and more access to it. I also understand that I’m the kind of person that goes and looks for that. So I, so maybe it, I don’t know. I understand that I have those unique eyes as we all do. But yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know if that would’ve been different had that not happened.

And knowing that the Paralympics were going on in China and that piece of information came out that said China had asked Putin not to invade until after the Olympics were over. And so I think that just made everyone else a whole new level of angry at China to where it doesn’t matter what’s going on, even if it’s good and feel good. We’re just ticked off at China for knowing about this, maybe, allegedly. And there’s just so many things at play here that I don’t know if it would have been different, had all these horrible things not been happening.

[00:28:47] Jill: I feel like some of the mainstream press paid attention to the Paralympics because of the Ukraine thing, especially with the USA Today, because they had, they had a whole office that they rented and they closed it all down. And those people left and somebody did send me an article from USA Today when the whole Ukraine thing kind of blew up. And then that was kind of it, I think, for their coverage.

I heard that NBC family of channels showed more hours than before. And I also saw today that their ratings were much better for the Paralympics than ever before, which is fantastic. And I think part of that is because they’ve increased their coverage and they’ve done a better job of it and it keeps getting better. So that’s good as well.

But China kept touting itself as you know, a dual Olympic city. And you see you’re in the Olympic park, it’s the Olympic stadium. It’s the big tower outside that’s got the Olympic rings on top, but they’re also a dual Paralympic city. And there’s no Agitos anywhere that’s permanent. There’s no mention of, oh yeah, we also host this. I think very much the Paralympics is still an afterthought of an event in many host city’s eyes. I wouldn’t say like London, London really loved having the Paralympics, but I think especially Beijing, it did feel like an afterthought in a sense, and not the same care, which is odd because Paralympics closing ceremony was the best out of the four.

But I do think that there’s a long way to go, to get that equality for the Paralympics. And it’s going to take time.

[00:30:31] Alison: And you mentioned the ratings, the ratings for, like you said, the Paralympics were the best, the ratings for the Olympics were the worst NBC has ever dealt with. So you would think let’s put some more investment in the Paralympics because it’s something people haven’t seen. People want to see things they haven’t seen. They don’t feel like this is old news, I think. And that’s why, oh, I haven’t seen that sport before.

[00:30:58] Claire: And I do have to give a ton of credit to Peacock. They put every single event, every single one on that streaming platform and it made my life, and I know it made a few other listeners live,s so much easier because going on the nbcolympics.com during Tokyo was almost like you had to shut your eyes. And we looked through a tiny little crease so that you wouldn’t get spoiled by something because they’d have a giant red banner that says, you know, Simone Biles drops out of gymnastics. And maybe you hadn’t watched that yet because you know, the whole 13 hour time difference, but Peacock very rarely would you see those kinds of things. I saw them a couple of times when they had like the little clips. But I went straight to the, to the feed. It had the live events, they had the replays. It was very easy for me to find the stuff that I was looking for. I could watch it in its entirety. I rarely had any issues with them saving something for a live broadcast later, which was a big issue in Tokyo, which I remember not so fondly.

So I think, I think a lot of people who are as obsessed with the Olympics as people that are listening right now I hope that they were able to take advantage of Peacock. And I know not everybody, I learned this the hard way, because I thought everybody, you should watch Peacock. And people are like, no, it’s, you know, I don’t want to wake up at four in the morning. They didn’t get it. And I get that.

People want to watch NBC for their Olympics coverage. They like the primetime coverage, which I still don’t like. And I, there are differences for everything, but the fact that everything was there for the obsessed people like us to watch it in its entirety was marvelous. And if they keep going this way, I’m very happy about it.

[00:32:41] Jill: I will say that Olympic Channel has been having Paralympic reruns on right now. That is nice. I appreciate that.

Okay. I’m going to get my soap boxes out of the way. So this was touted as a green games. Poor Alison. I think these were green in the sense that the stuff they built had better building technology and a lot of electricity savings in there. Other elements built in to make them like what we would have, like a LEAD certified building or something like that. They did that. They, they don’t have that many new venues, but I will say that the day-to-day green stuff, not so green.

Starting with the fact that you couldn’t drink the water unless you boiled it. So they gave you bottled water in your hotel room to use for brushing teeth. And even like, now I’m still like, Ooh, I can brush my teeth with the tap water that can I do that really here? Wow. Probably during the Olympics, I was responsible for at least a hundred bottles of ocean plastic.

[00:33:55] Alison: I was going to say we went through eight bottles a day in our hotel room.

[00:34:01] Jill: Yeah. Just about, because we had to have cleaning service come in just about every day to, mostly to replenish the water. And you were supposed to say whether, whether or not you want a new towels. Well, even if we wanted, didn’t want new towels, they still gave us new towels anyhow. They just took them.

The first hotel I was at was self-service toiletries, which there were a couple of different systems going on. So the first one, and this was for COVID to maintain a lot of non-contact with people, they didn’t do housekeeping unless you requested it. And the, the one thing that both hotels were really good about was we aren’t changing the sheets unless you put the sign on your bed. So I spent the first couple of weeks in Beijing going, how do I get the sheets changed? Because I put the “make my room up” sign out. And then I finally found the, the notification and the sign that I had to put on the bed. So I had two beds and I was in one bed for awhile. And then I switched to the other one when I wanted clean sheets. And then it was like, well, I need more clean sheets and I have no extra bed. What do I do now? And then I eventually found the thing, but that one was self-service toiletries. So when you got off the elevator, there was a table with bins of soap and toothbrushes and shampoo and conditioner and lotion and bottled water.

That was an eye-opener, but it was like great because every day when I get up, when I leave, I’d grab a couple bottles every day. When I came back, I’d grab a couple more bottles. And voila.

And then in our next hotel room, they gave us full size toiletries, which was really nice. We got a big bar soap and big bottle of shampoo and conditioner and body wash and lotion. So that was cool because we never had to have those replaced. And I thought that was really smart because that actually saved on trash and recycling. Well, if they recycle but then we still had the water.

And the other thing about the second hotel was if the product in your room was not from a top sponsor, they covered it, the brand up with tape. So the Phillips TV, the Phillips was covered up, but you turned on the TV and it still said Philips. The Nestle coffee that we had that was all covered up, the packets. That was a little intense for me.

But of course there was no recycling in your room. There was no recycling in the hallways. There was just no recycling in the media center, even though the bins they had were big cardboard and they had the recycling symbol on them in the corner. And you thought, oh, these are paper, but that was the only trash can they had. And that just was such a wasted opportunity and I’m sure they could go well in the dining hall, we recycled. See there’s tableware recycling, but that was taking your plastic dishes to the tray return and sending them off to the kitchen while you still threw all your bottles and your food waste all into one bin.

[00:36:58] Alison: Yes. They didn’t want us to throw away the metal silverware. Right. So we recycled that and there was a lot of, you know, we, we talked way too much about how much trouble we had with transportation, but if we’re talking green games, they were sending empty bullet trains, you know, with full cars, how many miles was it, did we figure out between the?

[00:37:24] Jill: I think it was 180 kilometers out to Zhangjiakou. It was pretty far out to Zhangjiakou.

Well, I took the day you arrived, because I wanted to make sure I was out of reach while you waited for your COVID test results. I took what they called the cross bus and it was, you could take the bullet train out to each of the competition zones, or you could take a bus and the bus was the only way to get from Yangqing to Zhangjiakou if you needed to do that.

So I took the bus and on my way there, which was a three and a half hour ride, it was me in a coach bus by myself, living large. Let me tell you living large seeing my PSA signs on the highway. Great. On the way back, there were a couple other people but it really, and I think part of that, the problem is that there weren’t people there and there weren’t the same number of journalists there. So what are you going to do? And they had the transportation system fixed so that buses left on a schedule, not when you needed them to necessarily. Like there could be ten people. Well, it was really bad for figure skating because that got to be a zoo at the end. And you’d have 50 people waiting for a bus. 50 or more and you’d get one bus. Because that was, you know, it was 20 after. So that’s when the bus comes and you pile on as many people as you can. And then it’s wait for the next bus. Luckily they had two different lines going to the figure skating stadium, but still you were on a schedule, not necessarily on demand. On demand was for taxis.

[00:39:05] Alison: And then you have buses going by all during the competitions that would run empty or run with one person. So there was never any adjustments made just with common sense.

You know, Jill had posted that video of, to get from one venue to another one block away, we had to take two buses all the way around several miles, where if they had just given us a walking path within the closed loop of one block, you could have cut out many, many, many buses during the day.

So they thought green, maybe on the big things, like we’re not going to build new venues. We’re not going to build these massive structures, but the practical, everyday changes that would be more sustainable within China, like let’s get the water system cleaned up so people don’t have to buy bottled water anymore. Let’s invest there. They didn’t do, so the legacy from this Olympics is not green. There was no systematic changes made that we could point to and say by having the Olympics and the Paralympics, we made a green effect on the city. It did just the opposite.

Just the water bottles that Jill and I used alone because the air was so dry. We were sucking water like there was no tomorrow. We put a new hole in the ozone layer just from our bottles.

[00:40:31] Jill: Well, you know, I turned around one day, like very early on, I turned around like, there’s no water left. And you’re like, I just drank three bottles of water. I don’t, I just sucked them down. I don’t know.

And it was just, it was a constant problem and yes, the buses were electric technology, but yeah, the new venues, the hope is that these venues get used and they’re not white elephants because you have a speed skating oval, which is gorgeous and would have signs all over in the bathrooms, like watch the amount of water you use. Don’t use a lot of toilet paper. But will it get the usage it needs to offset the cost of maintenance? And same with the big air venues, which is very cool, but like, hopefully you’ll be able to use it again. I don’t know. It was, it was really frustrating.

And then every once in a while, you’d see trash, garbage cans that were sectioned off into two to four cans, depending on your, what trash you had. And you’re like, you, we know you’re never picking, it’s all going in one bin. You just, you could tell. And there was one highway sign I, a billboard on a highway that I saw, that was like, let’s recycle. I’m like, wow, they actually recycle here. And then it was like, they don’t, and maybe they do some places, but they’d, and I kept thinking, you buy our recycling, what’s up with this. You, you’ve got access to billions of bottles. You can, you can recycle your own. And that was, that was really frustrating.

And we know that people said in the group, like, what’s up with the water bottles? Why, why can’t you just refill? Well, you know, we, there was no filtered water because it was hot or warm. Even the stuff that said cold was warm. Poor Alison refilled one of her water bottles. We were outside. It never really got cold.

[00:42:20] Alison: And I mean, not even cold, I would have been happy with room temperature, but you can’t refill a plastic bottle because the problem is you have, you know, we got refillable water bottles in one of our swag bags, but how do you wash that in a sink with water you can’t drink. You can’t, you have to wash it with bottled water. Where are you getting the bottled water to wash the reusable bottle from, right?

[00:42:48] Jill: Also either had to wash it with a bar of Safeguard or Olay shower gel. Pick your poison there right. So that was, that was really frustrating. And I don’t know what, what changes that, I don’t know what life, I mean, that was one thing we did not get an aspect of what life in China is like, and whether people do or don’t recycle.

[00:43:14] Claire: I do remember when I was there, they had the giant jugs, so you’d purchase it. And then like I had one in my apartment that, you know, every so often I’d have to use my muscles and lift it in and then you’d call the company, the water company and they’d take the empty ones away and give you a new, a new filled full one.

So I don’t, I don’t think that recycling is as used, but I still think that it is something that they do use around the country. I just don’t think that, it missed their closed loop and it was probably not the first thing they were thinking of.

They were thinking, I don’t get people sick. Let’s use all disposable things so that nothing could get passed along because we were testing these guys every day and we got to make sure that they’re all, you know, safe and happy in their closed loop.

[00:44:00] Jill: And that’s probably it. Yes. Yeah.

[00:44:04] Claire: How was the closed loop? Did you feel, did you feel secure? Did you feel safe?

[00:44:09] Jill: In the warm embrace of the closed loop? Yes. You know, I will say yes. Oh man. It was so stressful to get to China. The whole month before it was heavy isolation. Because you didn’t want to get COVID because if we got COVID we weren’t going. And that was just a whole wasted opportunity. So isolation, a lot of stress. I was eating Tums like no tomorrow. My back would not stop hurting. I could hardly sleep because of everything.

When I got there and like two or three days into it, and like, my back doesn’t hurt. Like I have nothing to fear for COVID anymore. And it was just so lovely and so freeing and yet I never, never felt unsafe.

The, the one time I did not feel, I was a little uneasy was in my first hotel when we all had tables outside of our door, and that was for contactless delivery. And when the papers started showing up on people’s tables for health monitoring and like, oh, did they get tested positive and they’re just being kept in their room. I’m not sure what I think about that. And of course they just left the papers and, there is obviously no HIPAA here in China. And then that was further down the hall. And then one happened next door to me, I’m like, Ooh, I don’t know about this, but what are you going to do? You don’t, you, wasn’t going to ask, Hey, what’s up with the papers on my neighbor’s table? And just like, okay. And, and even when they stopped monitoring it, they just left the papers on the table. So I don’t know what happened in that hotel.

I did have an air purifier in my room that I think was put there special for us. And they always, they kept saying ventilate your room. So if I had housekeeping come in, oh, they opened the windows. They definitely opened the windows.

Our second hotel, if we ventilated, they would close the windows. It was very, very different situation and no, no air purifier, but by that time, you’re just like, well, of course, you’re going to test negative. There’s nobody to get COVID from. Any case that came in, came in from an airport. So I don’t know, it was very safe for, for COVID reasons.

It was frustrating to deal with stuff that didn’t make sense. You could not walk from the Ice Cube to the hockey venue. You couldn’t walk. And the day we lost it and had seen the group from the International Paralympic Committee walking down the street in places where you couldn’t walk and then walking through that hole in the closed loop, that got me. Because I was just like, really?

And then the other thing that I really was angry about was the secret Wall tours. And I think Listener Dan, I think, had posted in the Facebook group about the NPR story that, oh, there are actually journalists do get to go visit the Great Wall. You just gotta be lucky. And they only had a few of those tours and I couldn’t figure out where they were in the info system. Alison finally found them. We missed the first sign up for Paralympics and then they did one more and it was basically first come first served. And I obviously didn’t get there because when I got the notification that it went live, I was on a bus somewhere. And I wasn’t, I wasn’t gonna use my data to sign up for this tour and do it on my phone. So that was really frustrating. That the secret wall tours or we’ll call them secret. I was frustrated that that happened.

They also had online tours of different cities and different cultural things are on China. And you were like, I’m not going to sit here on an online tour for an hour. I don’t know if anybody went to those. What good is that? And why aren’t you just throwing a whole bunch of us into one of these coach buses and driving us around the city. That was the other thing, like, I really wanted to drive around Tiananmen Square and around the Forbidden City, and you couldn’t do that. You couldn’t get a taxi to do that for you either because they weren’t allowed. They could only drive within the closed loop. So that was really frustrating. That just stuff like that wasn’t thought about, or it was thought about, and it was just like, oh, we’re going to sneak this in and see who sees it.

I thought it was ironic that you know, all of the closed loop restrictions were in place until they weren’t. And this was mostly on the buses where you couldn’t sit next to somebody else. They always had a seat between you and, and except for when everybody was trying to get back from a venue and you had to smash in the bus, like it was rush hour. And that was just, and it was funny because every once in a while you’d be like, well, I can’t sit in that seat. It’s marked off and be like, Hey, we got like 50 more people who want to get back to the media center. I’m going to sit in the seat that’s marked “don’t sit here.” So that was frustrating too. But I mean, I did feel safe. I will say that.

Oh, the other frustrating thing was getting through security every day. And we had at our hotels, you had to get your COVID test in the morning because when you left the hotel, you had to scan your credential to say that I had my COVID test, that, that, okay, I get that. But you also had to put your bag through security, go through the metal detector and then get wanded. You’re like, where have I been that I have to get wanded every day? And you know, sometimes it was pretty cursory like, oh yeah. You know, how are you going to get something in the closed loop?

Then it was even worse if you went somewhere. If you went out to Zhangjiakou. It was the worst at going out there in terms of security theater, because they stopped this pretty quickly, but you would take the bus to the railway station in Beijing. There were security there. So you had to put your bag through the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detector, but then they stopped that pretty quickly. But when you got into Zhangjiakou you had to go through that again when you left the railway station. Bag got x-rayed and you went through the metal detector. Then you got on a bus to either side of the city. And that the venues were snow park was on one side Nordic stuff was on the other. When you got to the outside of that cluster area, you had to go through security again. And you’re like, what? Where could I have gone from the train station to the bus, to this security checkpoint, that I would have picked up something. That felt like a huge waste to me. And it was very, very much theater and a lot of people who just, I felt, felt sorry for the, the people who had to work these jobs. And then in, in Zhangjiakou they were pretty much haz-matted up as well. So that was tough. That was a tough job for those people, because it didn’t make sense that they were there.

But now that I’m not in the warm embrace of the closed loop, I don’t know what to think about COVID. It’s really, it’s really weird being back here.

[00:51:22] Sarah: Yeah, I bet it is. I do wonder how much was theater, like you said. Because my first thought, when you were talking about the daily security checks, is what, where would you have gotten something? What would you have done? I am so confused. Which, I mean, I guess you always want to err on the side of caution, but still you are in a freaking closed loop.

[00:51:42] Jill: Right, right. And, and just, there was, I don’t know where they think we’d get something or what, what, I don’t know what they were looking for either, because I mean, we carried bottles of water with us. So if you were looking for liquids, we had them. We had computers. I don’t know what they were looking for and I don’t know what else. Oh. I carried a lot of stuff with me, so I don’t know what all we were looking for.

[00:52:07] Claire: And it seems a lot, a lot of that was probably theater, you know, just, that’s how government works there. They just, they’ve got to show, there might in some way, but a lot of that is, you know, we have all these people, we need to put them somewhere.

I can be a little forgiving when it comes to, to that. Because I understand all of the security and we’ve heard things for how many Olympics about security. That’s always been a hot topic, especially post 9/11. And actually, because of COVID for the past two Olympics, we haven’t heard anything about that because it hasn’t, you know, nobody’s been around to need to enforce that. So it’s kind of interesting that they had just as much security for this small group of press as they did for probably the whole of their 2008 Olympics. I don’t know.

[00:52:59] Jill: But, and you know, now that you mentioned it, I wonder if they had, that was the plan in place. If there was not a closed loop and they had a contract, so I guess we’re just going to honor this contract kind of thing. That’s what could have happened, but it just, oh, it was, it was really weird. And I did feel very bad for the security people who knew that there was nothing to be found, but we all got really good at like, hold your hands out, turn around. And it was a weird scenario.

Thank you so much, Claire and Sarah, you can follow Claire @cauldronlight on Twitter. And Sarah is @sarahpattontx, and you can also check out Sarah’s new podcast, The Games Odyssey Podcast, which is a look at more historical aspects of the Olympics and Paralympics. And there’ll be back here next week for part two.

[00:53:52] Alison: So I wish they really were going to be back here. We could just spend hours with them talking about all this stuff that happened. I mean, because there’s so many aspects to Beijing. There is, you know, I got to watch the Olympics here. You were there. Then watching the Paralympics, which I’m starting to hear more about, you know, what the watching experience was like when we were both there. And then there’s all the aspects of being there and being in Beijing. So there’s so many parts.

[00:54:19] Jill: Right. And You don’t necessarily realize how much you don’t see on TV and how much of the Olympic experience is different being there in person versus being able to watch it. Like being there in person, we got to see what you don’t see on TV. We got to experience the sports live, which is much different than experiencing them on TV. At the same time, I would see like one event, two events a day.

[00:54:48] Alison: There’s no double screening when you’re going to venues.

[00:54:51] Jill: No, not at all. So that in a way was a little disappointing, but at the same time, it’s such a trade-off. So it was nice to have all of you in the group and on Twitter and Insta talking about what you were seeing and watching, because that helped us get the full experience.

You have a story that we didn’t talk about.

[00:55:12] Alison: Right, so we went to the gold medal hockey game for the Paralympics and it was USA versus Canada. And it was great game. Wonderful. We get to the medal ceremony. China won the bronze. So they’re brought back out. Everyone gets their medals and their flowers. And now it’s time to play the anthem of the United States of America.

And usually in other instances, they say, please rise for the anthem of whatever country of the gold medalist. The announcer, didn’t say, please rise. The announcer simply said the Anthem of the United States of America. They play the anthem. And the great majority of the Chinese crowd did not stand and it only medal ceremony that we saw during the Paralympics, other than curling, which was for China. And when we talked about it, you had not seen an indoor medal ceremony during the Olympics, other than at the medal plaza.

[00:56:17] Jill: And the women’s hockey. I did see that. And then I left for the men’s hockey. I don’t think I stuck around for that medal ceremony.

[00:56:24] Alison: We don’t know if this was a perpetual thing or if this was just a one-time, if it was for other countries as well that they did not stand, or if this was something specific to the United States.

I was not bothered because it was some sort of show of disrespect toward the United States. I was bothered because it was a show of disrespect toward any gold medalist. You stand, you stand for their anthem. You stand when they receive their gold medals. It’s just a sign of respect for what this person has achieved. And it really bothered me.

[00:57:01] Jill: Yeah. And we were expected to stand for everything. Especially during the ceremonies, we were expected to stand for anthems and, and all of that.

[00:57:12] Alison: And the other announcers, for example, during closing ceremonies, when they performed the Italian anthem, the announcer said, please rise for the anthem of Italy. I thought it was very odd that he did not say, please rise in English or Chinese and that the crowd didn’t just rise. And I don’t know if there is some aspect of the People’s Republic of China that says you don’t stand for other people’s anthems, but they stood in the ceremony for Italy. I mean, there may be a part of the Chinese government saying, you know, you don’t stand for certain country anthems. I don’t know that. So I can’t, I’m not faulting these people as individuals. I’m saying that was a problematic moment in a problematical Olympics and Paralympics.

[00:58:07] Jill: Yes. And I don’t recall what happened during the women’s hockey match in the Olympics because it was Canada. And I believe I just rose anyway, because that’s what you did.

[00:58:21] Alison: And I don’t know if you would have even had much of a crowd because I think part of the reason there was so many people there was because China was receiving that bronze medal. So a lot of people came to that game to come to the medal ceremony after. So we had as full a house as we had seen. So it was very noticeable that people were not standing. Whereas you have, if you had had a smattering, I might not have even noticed.

[00:58:49] Jill: Right, right. Interesting.

I do want to say thank you to everybody in the Facebook group and those who act, interacted with us on social media, because you did notice this maybe a week in. I noticed you’ve picked up on the schedule because we would wake up in the morning and get to the workroom or wherever we were going. And you had a bunch of stuff on social media to catch up on and people were there. And then about one, two o’clock in the afternoon that all kind of died away. And maybe you’d get somebody from Australia or Kyori from Japan would be around and would post something.

And then you kind of waited and it, it was the afternoon kinda like, oh, nobody’s here, everybody’s asleep. And I’m here by myself kind of thing. And then like around 7:00 pm, I’d get the notifications on Twitter and be like, oh, Listener Lorry is up. And then like, Brittany would get up and then you’d see over on the Facebook group, be like Angela and Meredith and Don, we’re all getting like everybody’s waking up and then the evening would be fun.

[00:59:56] Alison: Right. So it would always happen at either the last hockey game of the day or the last curling match of the day, whichever one we were at all of a sudden it would be, oh, it’s morning on the east coast of the United States and people starting to wake up. And so then before we went to bed, everybody would have woken up and, and contributed. And then by the time we went to sleep, they were catching up on what we had just seen. Yes. It was a lot of fun.

[01:00:22] Jill: Yeah. And that, that made it. I would say, I mean, I really appreciate everybody who joined the group during the games. We got a lot of new members and it just made it so much more fun to have you chatting with us and chatting with each other and posting what you were seeing and other stuff you found and asking questions, because by golly, it was fun to like have missions.

And I cannot tell you the look of relief on athletes’ faces when I said in the mixed zone, I don’t want to talk about your race. I want to talk about the snow. And they were like, oh, thank goodness. You can just see it.

[01:00:58] Alison: Well people love their sport. And we do not ask the questions that they get normally asked at the end of a race, you know, all the, how do you feel about it? Well, we don’t care how you feel about it.

[01:01:13] Jill: And we can guess, you know, like, oh, you, you know, it’s biathlon, you missed a bunch of shots and you finished at the back of the pack. I’m guessing you don’t feel great. You know, why do we need to hear a rehash with like the pat answers with the, the up speech, whatever, you know what I mean?

[01:01:29] Alison: We want to hear you sound smart about your sport.

[01:01:31] Jill: Yeah.

[01:01:33] Alison: And we would love to know the questions that you still have, and you can still join the Facebook group. It’s Keep the Flame Alive podcast and we are there and we are still there. All our listeners are still hanging out there. So please let us know what you still have questions about and that’ll direct us what we’re going to do in the next couple of months.

[01:01:56] Jill: Exactly. Yeah. So what questions do you have left over from Beijing? What questions do you have left over from Tokyo or going into Paris? Like we’re trying to figure out where we should start focusing and what questions we need to answer first. Because we got, we got a couple of years of fun before we hit it up again.

[01:02:15] Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN.

[01:02:21] Jill: It’s been a long time since we heard that.. I know it’s exciting. So now it’s time to check in with our Team Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests of the show who now are on our team. They are known as TKFLASTANIS, which is our, the country we’ve created for Team Keep the Flame Alive.

First off Erin Jackson, what a year for her, she won the overall 500 meter World Cup title for the season. And then she, along with Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia will have a parade in their honor in Ocala, Florida on this Saturday, March 26.

[01:02:56] Alison: Bobsledder Lauren Gibbs has officially retired and then promptly had surgery. She had surgery on her right hip labrum and is having surgery on her left hip labrum at the end of the month. But she’s doing very well and we wish her a speedy recovery.

[01:03:12] Jill: Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble sailed at the Sailing World Regatta and Maggie is eight weeks post-surgery and recovering well.

[01:03:21] Alison: And Kelly Claes has two new partners. She got married on March 6th, and if you see the pictures, she looked gorgeous and incredibly happy. And she also announced she will be competing on the AVP tour this season with Betsi Flint.

[01:03:37] Jill: Biathlete Clare Egan has retired from competition. I believe she’s continuing on with her role in the athletes commission for the International Biathlon Union. So it was her, her tour of duty for that position is still ongoing, but she implemented a, or she said she didn’t come up with the idea, but she did make happen a little lap of honor for all of the retiring biathletes, which is really nice. Everyone is, it’s really sad to see the end of a world cup season, because you do see all of these athletes who retire, but it was nice that the IBU honored a bunch of them.

[01:04:13] Alison: And I would think at the end of an Olympic year, there was a bunch because there was a big group doing that lap of honor.

[01:04:18] Jill: Yes. Yes, definitely.

[01:04:21] Alison: Bradley Wilson is competing in the Toyota US freestyle championships this weekend at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah,

[01:04:29] Jill: Tony Azevedo got inducted into the PAC-12 Hall of Honor for water polo and was recently in Budapest to be part of a film about water polo.

[01:04:39] Alison: Laura Wilkinson published The Confidence Journal, which is available on her website laurawilkinson.com.

[01:04:46] Jill: Boxer Ginny Fuchs will make her professional debut on April 9th at the top rank card in Costa Mesa, California.

[01:04:54] Alison: And Steve Emt will be competing with Oyuna Uranchimeg at the inaugural US Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling National Championships this weekend.


[01:05:04] Jill: That is so exciting that the sport is developed enough to have that competition. I am thrilled. I hope then that means that eventually mixed doubles will become part of the Paralympics as well.

[01:05:14] Alison: I would hope to see them in Milan.

[01:05:16] Jill: And shooter Kim Rhode welcomed a legotto romagnolo puppy into her household recently.

[01:05:23] Alison: We always love when dogs join TKFLASTAN.

[01:05:32] Jill: Not, not the button you want to press to hear the doping sound, but yes, we have another medal stripped. And this makes me shake my head because we are still talking about medals from London 2012. We are almost 10 years away from London 2012. We are still stripping people of medals.

This is Russian racewalker Yelena Lashmanova will be stripped of her gold medal for use of prohibited substances. She is actually going to be disqualified for all of the results between February 18th, 2012 through January 3rd, 2014. And I believe that includes a world championship in there as well. So she’s stripped of that.

This means that all nine Russian racewalkers at London 2012 have been disqualified and it looks like the podium for the women’s 20 kilometer race walk will be a Chinese sweep with Qieyang Shijie, who was the original bronze medalist, now being upgraded to gold. So she got stepped up to silver and now will be up to gold. Can you imagine?

[01:06:36] Alison: She is trading her medals like we were trading pins.

[01:06:41] Jill: And Inside the Games reported that the Russians overall athletics medal tally for those games for the gold medals, they had originally won eight. They are now down to two and they won 18 athletics medals overall, and they are now down to seven. I just, that makes me so angry that we’re still talking about doping from 2012.

[01:07:04] Alison: And still talking about Russian doping.

[01:07:07] Jill: I have a feeling that we’re never going to stop talking about Russian doping.

[01:07:11] Alison: Speaking of Russian doping…

[01:07:14] Jill: We have the decision on the Kamila Valieva case in the team figure skating competition from Beijing may drag on for months because the Russian anti-doping agency also known as RUSADA, they have six months from the time they were informed of the positive test to investigate this and reach a decision on Valieva. So we’re looking at early August before we might have a decision on who gets the team figure skating medals.

[01:07:43] Alison: Well, the good news, I guess, is the Russians will not be competing at the figure skating world championships this week. For other reasons ISU decided to ban them because of the invasion of Ukraine. So at least we’re not dealing with doping at that world championships.

[01:08:03] Jill: Yeah. Yeah. The small, bright side of that. Ah, yeah, I think it’s probably frustrating for the teams who are also on the medal podium and have not received their medals yet. And don’t get to do the whole, let me show off my medal. Or take it around to at least in the US because the US is one of the winners. I mean, they could have been on the Today Show. Maybe they were still doing all of the big press, and usually you wear your medal for all of that. And now you don’t get to.

[01:08:32] Alison: And they didn’t get to wear it for closing ceremonies, which is tradition as well. So it was a mess on so many levels.

On a happier note, speaking of figure skating, the Ukrainian teams have made it to the world championships.

[01:08:45] Jill: Oh, that is good. That is good.

Oh, we’re going to start hearing that sound a lot, because that is our Paris 2024 music. Makes me very happy.

[01:08:59] Alison: Makes me hungry for a croissant. Oh, do we think they’ll have croissants on the media table snacks?

[01:09:08] Jill: They might. And instead of an omelet man, you could have a crepe maker.

[01:09:14] Alison: Crepe man will be my friend.

[01:09:18] Jill: Paris has announced its ticketing program. So this is something that they are going to manage via a new worldwide digital platform. So we will not see any dealings with the authorized ticket resellers anymore which is kind of exciting news.

There’s going to be 10 million tickets available for the Olympics, 3.4 million tickets available for Paralympics, and they are pricing a chunk of these tickets at reasonable prices for the budget conscious person. So they said a million Olympic tickets will be priced at 24 euros, and euro is a little over a dollar. So it’s pretty comparable. 500,000 Paralympic tickets will be priced at 15 euros, and this will be across every sport too.

So you could, it’s not just smaller sports or sports that aren’t as popular. You could get tickets for swimming and gymnastics at 24 euros. How many will be available? Different question, but they’ve also said that they’re going to have almost half of the Olympic tickets cost between 24 and 50 euros. And over half of the Paralympic tickets will be 25 euros or less. And the flip side, they’d like to make 1.1 billion euros from tickets. So my guess is at the high end, tickets are going to be really expensive.

[01:10:36] Alison: And they’re using, if I remember correctly, a lot of temporary venues. So I’m wondering how that will work with temporary seating. Will they be able to add space more so than for permanent venues? Could you have more seating because it’s a temporary venue and you don’t have to worry about the white elephant?

[01:10:58] Jill: That’s a good question. If they found that something was more popular, could they add another layer of stands or another section of stands? Oh, I would totally do that seriously.

[01:11:09] Alison: I, I don’t know. I don’t know enough about temporary venues, you know, how long that takes to put together, but could they make adjustments like that so that they could in fact, make 1.1 billion euros on tickets alone.

[01:11:22] Jill: Excellent question. Because the, the ticket model they’ll have, they’re going to have a random draw at the beginning of the process to give you, give those people first access to tickets. Those people who win the draw are going to be guaranteed to receive the tickets they pay for, because what would happen in the Co-Sport draw is you would, you would bid for, or not bid, but you put your name in for all of these events and you didn’t know what you were going to get.

And so basically, you will get what you pay for here. This draw, registration’s going to start at the end of 2022. Ticket sales will start at the end of 2023. They’ll be sold in phases. So phase one will be multi-session packets of tickets. Session two will be individual tickets. And then at the end of 2023, there will be more tickets on offer. So I don’t know if it’ll be like, oh, these tickets got returned or maybe we’ve, we’ve added more. That could be the best chance that you will have to get priority access will be by joining Le Club.

[01:12:26] Alison: Because now you do not have to be French to join Le Club.

[01:12:30] Jill: Yes. And you can find that at club.paris2024.org.

Another sound we’ll start hearing more often is the Milan Cortina music. So yes, Milan Cortina has announced that it’s, the first part of its mascot design competition is going to wrap up this weekend. This section will be entries from primary and lower secondary school students, because they’ve said at least one mascot will be designed by students. So we will see what these kids come up with. I am hopeful that they are children and we’ll come up with something cute and cuddly versus something very avant-garde.

[01:13:11] Alison: Or something terrifying, like the three headed monster with wings and fangs.

[01:13:19] Jill: Well, you know, maybe the three-headed monster could be cute. You can make it cute. Yeah.

But so then what happens is there’s going to be a multi-phase selection process. So it’s got to get through a round of working groups. The second phase will be a national public vote. So we’ll see how many mascots get through phase one to go to the vote. And there they’ve been really big on voting for everything because the public chose the logo. The public has chosen the anthem. So now they will get to choose mascots as well.

[01:13:53] Alison: Futura, maybe that’ll be the name of the mascot too.

[01:13:56] Jill: Ooh. I could take that as a mascot name.

[01:14:01] Alison: And how annoying am I going to be for everyone if they make it Futura? Whatever they call it, I’m going to do this ridiculous Italian accent for it.

[01:14:12] Jill: Buckle up, folks. Get ready.

[01:14:18] Alison: I don’t know how to say that in Italian. I know basta. That’s what everyone can say to me.

[01:14:26] Jill: All right. Well, that is going to do it for this week. Let us know what you thought of Beijing

[01:14:38] Alison: You can get in touch with us through email at flamealivepod@gmail.com. You can call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s (208) FLAME-IT. Our social handle is @flamealivepod and be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive podcast group on Facebook.

[01:14:54] Jill: Next week, we will have part two of our Beijing 2022 wrap-up. So thank you so much for listening and until then, keep the flame alive.



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