Foreign athletes will be prohibited from taking their own food into the Beijing Olympic Village in order to ensure food security, Olympic officials said on Thursday.
Outlining food safety rules for the Games, Kang Yi, catering chief of the Beijing Olympics organizing committee, said the rule complied with standard international practice.
"Foods are banned mainly out of safety concerns, and beverages are not allowed in the Olympic village to protect sponsors' rights," she said.
Xiang Ping, deputy director of games services department, said: "Olympic games of past ages did not allow athletes to bring their own prepared food to the athletes village, but medicines are complicated and will be treated differently.
"Athletes who have long taken certain kinds of medicines should first report the medicines via the designated personnel of their respective countries and then might be able to take the medicines to Beijing," said Xiang.
The comments were made in response to questions at a press conference about reports that the U.S. delegation would set up a training camp outside the Olympic Village where the athletes could prepare their own food.
"We have made a thorough preparation for the Games, hoping that all the athletes from the world over could be happy together during the Beijing Olympic Games. I will feel sorry if the American delegation is not part of the party," said Kang, who admitted that his section had not received any formal notice informing him about the American delegation's plan.
Xiang said that she had received no formal notification of the plan either and added that it was unnecessary for foreign teams to bring their own food.
"There is no need to bring prepared food on the part of athletes as there is a great variety of food to meet everybody's needs at the athletes village," said Xiang.
Tang Yunhua, spokeswoman of the Municipal Office for Food Safety, said standards for the Games were stringent, sometimes even higher than standard international practices.
"Beijing has worked out careful plans concerning the guarantee of food safety during the Olympic Games," she said.
"Beijing has established a comprehensive food safety control mechanism that covers the whole process from production to the table so we can make sure Olympic food is entirely safe," she said.
"We have been doing our utmost to take the customs and tastes of all competing athletes into consideration in supply of raw materials," said Tang.
"The city authority has also worked out strict measures to guarantee food safety for the Olympic Games so that food safety at the village and sports venues is not at risk," said Tang.
"We suggested delegations from all countries should feel at ease eating the food we serve at the Olympic Village," said Tang.
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2008)