The wait for Britain’s first gold medal at these Winter Olympics goes on, but Team GB has become a surprise success off the snow and ice after its opening ceremony kit became a sensation on Weibo, the most widely used social media platform in China.
Reaction to the British team, who wore a Ben Sherman duffle coat and Chelsea boots during the ceremony, reached No 8 on the Weibo Hot Topic section, with the Olympics and the start of the Chinese lunar new year the most popular.
Footage of their entrance to the Bird’s Nest stadium has been viewed more than 500,000 times. Such has been the reaction the British embassy has been asked by their followers in China to run a competition to win the kit.
Many Weibo users spoke approvingly of the stylishness of the attire, although others wondered whether the athletes felt cold in temperatures that dipped well below freezing. “Everyone else was wearing a down jacket, only Team GB wearing a coat,” said one comment. “This is so English. But really, are you guys not cold?” said another.
One user likened the coat to the Hogwarts school uniform.
Meanwhile, Team GB have revealed they took equipment to build separate gyms in their three training bases in China – including six Olympic lifting areas, kettlebells, Watt bikes and ski Ergs – as part of a plan to mitigate Covid risk.
No British athlete has tested positive for Covid in Beijing, something that would require them facing a spell in a quarantine hotel until they cleared two negative tests over two days.
As part of a plan to make the 50 British athletes feel more welcome, the British Olympic Association has also shipped 3,200 teabags, 160 tins of baked beans, 160 bottles of blackcurrant, apple and orange juice, 40 Smart TVs and 15 Brompton bikes.
The alpine skier Charlie Guest, who competes on Wednesday, said it had made a big difference to her preparations. “Team GB has done a great job, especially with kitting us out with snacks and providing us everything we need,” she said.
“We have access to weights. It is a fantastic performance facility downstairs. And we have plenty of porridge pots, crackers, breads, crisps, sweets, anything to keep us going.”