Kitajima Backs Beijing Village Tucker
Craig Lord
Japanese fears that China would not be able to cope with its culinary demands have been put to rest by the double Olympic champ but Ai Shibata is missing her bathtub

Double Olympic champ Kosuke Kitajima has given the thunbs up to the food and drink in the Beijing Olympic athletes' village, telling Reuters: 'It's the tastiest food I've ever eaten at any athletes' village I have stayed at. I have gargled with the tap water too and that was fine I'm sure.'

Let's hope so. Dumplings imported from China contaminated with pesticide triggered a food scare in Japan this year, worsening the often-strained relations between the countries. But Kitajima has done his diplomatic bit for friendly relations.

I'm sure he was sincere but the quotes reminded me of the media briefing given by a British government minister in the presence of his pre-teens daughter some years ago: he was seen stuffing a British beef burger into the child's mouth during the height of the mad-cow disease. he was confident in the safety of British beef products, he said. Diplomacy and politics know no bounds.

That said, it is actually hard to imagine that China would not to wish to look after its Olympic guests to the very best of its abilities. As with tales of horror before the Athens Games, which turned out to be a great success, fears about Beijing are likely to be unfounded. We'll soon see.

Fears were voiced by the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) over the quality of the food available to the athletes in Beijing but Kitajima appears to have put everyone at ease before flying off with teammates to the South Korean island of Jeju to finish his preparations in readiness for start of racing on August 9.

Japanese athletes have, it is reported from Asia, undergone a 'spartan, chopstick-free Chinese food training programme to help them acclimatise for the Games'. Japan's National Training Centre offered basic Chinese dishes such as noodles, cold spring rolls and fried catfish once a week in a dry run for the Games.

In fact, in Beijing, Japanese food was served to the Japanese. Not everyone was happy. Defending 800m free champion Ai Shibata complained: 'I want to relax but there are no bathtubs - that's a bit off.' What ever would Fanny Durack have made of it all?