For many Chinese staff and volunteers, working at the Beijing Games means missing their biggest family celebration as they ring in the Lunar New Year, so instead, they have made it an occasion for foreign visitors to the Olympics.
Hugh Yu, general manager at the Nanshanli Condotel in the ski resort at Zhangjiakou, spent the last day of the old year kneading dough and preparing fillings to make traditional dumplings before the hotel’s restaurant opens for a special buffet dinner.
“Everyone, all the family members, sit together, no matter where they come from. Wherever you have gone, you end up returning home every year, no matter how hard it is,” he told Reuters.
“You have to return home – everyone has the simplest food, and everyone has to make a dumpling, have a dumpling meal, and these are the dumplings for this reunion,” Yu added.
Yu and his staff of around 25 spent the day preparing for the evening feast, attended by residents of hotels in the “closed loop” in Zhangjiakou, many of whom are working for the Olympic broadcast teams televising the Games.
“This year, the Olympic Games coincided with Lunar New Year, so I think that it’s quite fortunate to have friends from all over the world spend the Spring Festival together, so we include everyone,” Yu said.
Kitchen workers wearing hairnets and visors oversaw the final preparations while waiting staff in full personal protective equipment roamed the restaurant.
Despite attaining a management position after 20 years in the catering business, Yu still rolls up his sleeves to make the dumplings filled with either egg and chives or minced pork.
Under normal circumstances, he would have spent the holiday with his family, but because of the Olympics, he will have to make do with a video call.
“No matter how busy you are in the Spring Festival, no matter how busy you are this year, you have to go home, whether you have earned money this year or not,” Yu said.
“I was born with the catering business, and whatever position I held, the busiest period was during Spring Festival season,” he explained as his hungry guests began streaming in for the feast.
The opening ceremony for the Beijing Games takes place on Friday.