Okay, so we can't take you truly inside the athlete's village, as (non-rights-holding) media cameras aren't allowed within its walls. We can have the athletes bring the village to you. Which is what we'll do over the next few days, starting with a report from Canada's top female badminton player Anna Rice.
Rice finished competing over the weekend—she reached the round of 16 before losing to World No. 3 Lu Lan—but is remaining in Beijing with her boyfriend, fellow badminton player Bobby Milroy, to take in the sights and attend events with the humanitarian group Right to Play, for which she is an athlete ambassador. At an auction Tuesday evening for the organization, Rice was honored with a three-month fellowship to live and work in the field at one of the Right to Play regional headquarters in Africa next spring.
Rice says the best thing about the athlete's village, aside from watching her fellow jocks gawk at the USA basketball team in the lunchroom, is the free services.
"There's an area where you can get haircuts, eye exams, manicures, pedicures," she says. "Yesterday, I got a manicure," she says, showing off the handiwork.
The local artists at the salon will take any requests for images that an athlete (male or female!) would like painted onto their nails. So, many of the athletes here in Beijing are showing some major national (and sport) spirit. Rice chose white nail polish with alternating maple leafs, Olympic rings and badminton shuttles.
"Badminton is really popular in China, so she knew how to draw that no problem," Rice says. "But they had no idea what a maple leaf looked like. I had to show them the back of my jacket."
Guess they don't get out much.