NASHVILLE — U.S. Figure Skating has gone to great lengths to try to create a bubble-style safety net around its skaters at this week’s Olympic trials, with masks and COVID-19 vaccination cards or tests required for fans, and all three required for media members.
But in the official USFS hotel, the downtown Renaissance, where many skaters, coaches, judges and officials are staying, the bubble has already burst spectacularly.
Masks are not required anywhere in the hotel, according to a front-desk employee. The elevators often contain maskless people.
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But that was nothing compared to the 24th floor Club Lounge, which is open to frequent Marriott guests.
On Wednesday morning, there were about 30 people packed into the lounge for breakfast, and at least 22 without masks. It wasn’t the case of pulling the mask down to eat or drink; for these people, there was no mask in sight.
Included in the group was 2018 U.S. Olympian and 2022 U.S. Olympic hopeful Karen Chen, who was wearing a mask.
“I’m going to try to pick up food and get out quickly,” she said. She was in and out in about five minutes, but during that time she could not socially distance from anyone.
On Tuesday night, a dozen people were gathered in the lounge, all of them unmasked. The hotel staffer in the lounge that evening, who was wearing a mask, said he was surprised by the number of people who said they were involved with the figure skating Olympic trials who came in maskless.
Some of those people, if not many of them, are then presumably entering the “bubble” at Bridgestone Arena.
This is why U.S. Speedskating decided to make its Olympic trials off limits to fans and media, and why Canada is holding its Olympic figure skating trials without spectators and media.
One USFS spokesperson declined comment, while another could not be reached for comment.
Top U.S. skaters including longtime men’s favorite Jason Brown and ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue said last month they would not be staying at the official USFS hotel. The Beijing Winter Olympics begin Feb. 4.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US Figure Skating hotel full of maskless people amid Olympic trials