2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Monday, August 18, 2008 at 9:46 AM
While your correspondent believes Beijing's air quality is a serious problem that I hope will be solved before everyone who lives in Beijing gets emphysema, it has always struck me that the Olympic Games air pollution scares were rather silly.
The Games have previously been held in polluted cities like Los Angeles and Mexico City, and the range of factors affecting athletic performance includes altitude, temperature, and wind. An athlete should be able to compete in different conditions, and pollution is one of the realities of 21st Century life.
Moreover, there are between 12 and 20 million people who live in and around Beijing on a permanent basis. Health concerns about people staying here for a week or two never deserved to be taken seriously.
On Saturday, the same day that Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the world record for the 100 meter dash (9.69 seconds, see see story) The New York Times published an article by science journalist Gina Kolata:
Still, it's probably a good thing that air quality has been made a serious media concern. Whether anything is done about Beijing's air and China's many other environmental problems after the Games remains to be seen, but the Party is making the right noises: see this China Daily article published this morning titled Environment remains top priority - Wen.
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