Air Quality a Serious Problem in Beijing
Now that the 2008 Summer Olympics have reached sportswriters' radar screens, the major question isn't about who will win medals in Beijing.
It is which athletes are willing to risk their health in the horrific smog-like air of Beijing?
Which brings us to this question: should the Olympics be held in Beijing at all?
The air quality in Beijing is dangerously unhealthy. The IOC has claimed the air "poses some risks at this time" but "conditions will be good for athletes during the games."
How can they guarantee that?
They can't. Beijing is a burgeoning city that has serious pollution problems. One that cannot be solved in a matter of months. It will take years, maybe decades to rectify this problem.
According to Time Magazine, local officials may be "tweaking its methods of calculating the city's air pollution index" in order for it to attain acceptable readings.
This issue is beginning to cause concern for some participants.
According to Time Magazine, Haile Gebrselassie will not run in the marathon at this summer's Games.
"Gebrselassie is asthmatic, and he is concerned that Beijing's polluted air could damage his health over the 42 kilometer race. (He still plans to run the far shorter 10,000 meters event.) The Ethiopian's concern has underscored the stakes in a showdown between city officials and a 26-year-old American environmental consultant who has raised serious questions about Beijing's official air pollution statistics."
Steven Spielberg has also dropped out of the Olympics in his role as an artistic adviser. This is a clear sign that he is not satisfied enough with the clean-up effort in Beijing to put his name and reputation on the line for this event.
This may be only the tip of the iceberg.
If you're thinking of going to the Olympics, bring a mask.
More to come...JF