11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Olympic Village
If it takes a village to raise a child, then imagine what it takes to raise 3,000 Olympians? With the 2018 Winter Games wrapping up in PyeongChang, athletes had been hunkering down in the Olympic Village, a mythical place that somehow houses, feeds and keeps sane some of the most talented — and certainly the fittest — people on earth.
But while you probably don’t care to mimic an Olympian’s daily routine — so much oatmeal, so many hours at the gym — you might be curious to discover exactly how they lived in between competing in one (or more) of the 102 events on tap. Here, some of the best tidbits about this makeshift city in South Korea, which were open through the Olympic’s end on February 25.
1. Cities go into debt to build the Village.
Hosting an Olympic Games is an honor, but it can really put a dent in a city’s budget. The last summer Games in Rio cost a reported $13.1 billion, and selling off the apartments in the athletes’ village built for the occasion wasn’t successful: Fewer than 10% of the apartments found buyers.
2. No parents allowed.
There’s already a college vibe on campus — the Village apartments basically look like dorms — but since there are no parents or reporters allowed on the premises, it’s even more of a free-for-all. Go wild, young champions!
3. They’re segregated.
No, not like that. But PyeongChang’s living quarters divvied up athletes by sport: Athletes in the snow events stayed in the mountainous PyeongChang region in eight 15-story buildings. Arena athletes like hockey players and ice skaters — plus all the media—were in the town of Gangneung in nine 25-story high-rises. Athletes were also separated by country, so there are no united nations in bedrooms.
4. It’s like an actual city.
All the amenities are there: bank, post office, general store, laundromat, rec center, beauty salon, multi-faith center and a fitness center (obviously). Honestly, we’d pay a visit.
5. Apartments are pretty much dorms.
Platform double beds, desks and chairs, couches. One souvenir for athletes to take home is a quilt in fuchsia, coral and purple, or blue covered with images of winter sports. And yes, they could decorate the walls with whatever inspirational sayings or family photos they’d like. (How many Scarface posters do you think were on the walls?) Thankfully, each room comes with its own bathroom.
6. It’s a food smorgasbord.
Those perfect bodies need plenty of fuel. There were around 180 chefs and 180 different dishes in the 24-hour dining halls. And check out the menu — at 18 pages, it covered Western, Asian, Korean, religious (Kosher and Halal), and vegetarian options in six buffets, and, as Food & Wine notes, there were “13 whole, cut and dried fruits as well as around 20 fresh, steamed, cut, blanched, sautéed, seasoned, or grilled vegetables” along with nine varieties of bread and six kinds of eggs. Finally, a menu that puts a New York diner’s to shame.
7. But there’s also a nearby Costco.
You know, in case one of the skeleton dudes craved a chicken bake or anyone needed to pick up extra food. US skier (and bronze medalist!) Lindsey Vonn traveled with her own chef, who traveled through customs with oatmeal.
8. Plus, there’s a McDonald’s in the Village.
The Gangneung location has a McDonald’s, which is wrapping up its 42-year sponsorship of the Games. Apparently, the North Korean and South Korean hockey players — who competed together on one team — bonded over eating Oreo McFlurries for breakfast. No counting pennies at the register, by the way. The food is free for athletes.
9. There’s a virtual reality station.
Samsung, another Olympic sponsor, has a virtual reality experience where athletes can simulate snowboarding. Wonder if Shaun White stopped by?
10. It’s not all business
Now that the Games are over, there’s a good chance the rec centers are getting more attention — athletes can goof off with foosball, air hockey and video games like FIFA.
11. In fact, there’s a lot of action.
And we don’t mean on the half-pipe. One of the best-known anecdotes was how many condoms were given out to the ultra-toned athletes who are experts at burning calories through alternative means. This year, the Olympics passed out 110,000 condoms to 2,925 athletes. That’s 37 per person, which isn’t crazy, given that traffic to Tinder has apparently spiked 348% since the Games began.