Olympic athletes already have bodies in peak condition and talents that allow them to compete on the world’s grandest sporting stage. As if that weren’t enough to make the rest of us jealous, this year’s winter Olympians get to indulge in complimentary Big Macs, too. McDonald’s has set up two temporary outposts that are catering to competitors and fans in South Korea for the Pyeongchang games.
Mickey D’s is serving free food to athletes at its pop-up outpost inside Gangneung Olympic Village, where Olympians reside during their stay. The same offer was available at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and it proved to be so popular the chain had to limit customers to 20 items per order. That’s right, Olympians were cleaning out their local Golden Arches so fast, the restaurant couldn’t keep up.
McDonald’s second location catering these winter games is at Gangneung Olympic Park, which is open to fans from around the world. There’s no free food, but the restaurant was built to resemble a combo meal.
There is a bit of a dark cloud hanging over Pyeongchang in these early days. The dread norovirus has shown up, leaving at least 128 people sick. So far, the foodborne illness hasn’t been reported by any athletes, and it has mostly affected security guards. Should that change — especially if someone at either Gangneung McDonald’s is infected — it could be a nightmare. Norovirus spreads rapidly, and it leaves victims with symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases can result in hospitalization. Denver-based burrito chain Chipotle has fallen from grace in part because of its issues with norovirus outbreaks. No one associated with the PyeongChang Olympics or McDonald’s wants that story.