Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beijing’s Olympic Trials

There is a certain kind of smugness I get when I read about Beijing’s Olympic trials. The Globe and Mail:
BEIJING — With heavy smog still shrouding the city and the Olympics only 10 days away, Beijing is considering a series of emergency measures to fight pollution, including the removal of up to 90 per cent of cars from the streets.

The emergency measures could also include the shutdown of more factories and the complete closing of all construction sites in the capital, the Chinese state media reported yesterday. Factories and residents in the nearby city of Tianjin and the neighbouring province of Hebei could also be affected by the emergency measures, the government said. The haze in Beijing was so bad yesterday that visibility was reduced to just a few hundred metres. Olympic stadiums were barely visible behind the smog.

The city's air quality has been dangerously unhealthy for the past four days, exceeding the national standards for the pollution index, the state-run China Daily reported yesterday. The emergency measures will be officially announced soon, and will be put into effect within 48 hours if the air quality deteriorates during the Olympics, the newspaper said. It cited the recommendation of one environmental expert who suggested that up to 90 per cent of private cars should be removed from the streets every day

Being able to enforce a 90% road ban for all private automobiles is what I call the ultimate in totalitarian government and makes me wonder how long before the chi-coms demand rickshaws replace taxis?

What if you held an Olympic games but no one wanted to risk their health by simply showing up in order to compete?

Many athletes are worried about the smog. Some top competitors, including marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, have decided to skip the Games to protect their health. The International Olympic Committee says it might delay some outdoor events if pollution levels are unhealthy. Some athletes have considered wearing masks during their training sessions in Beijing. Canada is sending its entire track-and-field team to Singapore for its pre-Olympic training camp. The athletes will remain in Singapore even during the opening days of the Olympics, to minimize their exposure to Beijing's pollution. The Australian Olympic Committee said yesterday it will allow its athletes to withdraw from any Olympic competition if they feel pollution is a threat to their health.

When I first heard the IOC had awarded the 2008 games to China my reaction was to question the sobriety of the committee members when the vote was cast. I couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind would award the games to one of the last of the big time totalitarian governments – I mean, wasn’t that all very anti-1991 of them?
I questioned whether any athlete, after investing umpteenth amount of time in maintaining their health at peak performance would really want to play Russian Roulette with their body by competing in China. Turns out, I had a little more common sense than your standard IOC committee member.


Anonymous said...

Only Australia is Cognizant of Beijing Smog Danger, Sending Team from Hong Kong Training Camp for Event Only; Olympics President Asked to Remove Triathlon, Marathon, and Cycling Out of Deadly Smog

Stephen Fox
[see also: http://www.transworldnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?id=53481&ret=AccountDtl.aspx]

Because of concern about air quality, most of Australia’s track and field athletes will miss the Aug. 8 Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing. With events beginning after Aug. 15, one week after the opening, Athletics Australia has chosen to hold its pre-Olympic training camp in Hong Kong. Competitors will then fly to Beijing three or four days before their events.

“As many sports have said, China presents difficulties for athletes going in and being there for a period of time,” Athletics Australia national performance manager Max Binnington. “Anything more than five or six days and they inevitably end up with some sort of respiratory problem. So that was why many of the sports who don’t have to be in there early are choosing not to go in. And the outcome is that it’s almost impossible to go for the opening ceremony.” Australia’s triathletes will also miss the opening ceremonies for similar reasons. “Most of our athletes have accepted the decision straight away."

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Bejiing organizing committee, stated that nations could be flexible for the opening ceremonies. “Every team can arrange its schedule according to its own plan,” Sun said. “As for the environmental problems, we’ve said many times that we’re confident that we can provide clean air during the Olympic Games.” A plan for Beijing’s notoriously clogged traffic include half of the city’s 3.3 million vehicles being banned each day, using an odd-even system from registration plates.

“Generally those competing of the first day or the second day don’t march, standing up for eight hours a day or so before competition isn’t a medically smart thing to do,” AOC spokesman Tancred said. Australian and Hong Kong physicians have backed this up: see "Medical Experts Say Olympians Face Health and Performance Difficulties in Beijing's Air Pollution from Hong Kong and Australian Physicians: Even Spectators Should Worry!" at:
an article by Tan Ee Lyn.

Despite IOC President Jacques Rogge's "Beijing air pollution cheer" a few days ago from Lausanne, Switzerland, in which he basically dismisses all of these concerns, I would like you to be aware of my latest articles, which we refer to by URL in order to bring you the photo essay on Beijing smog:

[Title: Jacques Rogge and Olympic Committee: Please move Marathon, Triathlon, and Cycling out of Beijing's Deadly Air Pollution! Carbon Monoxide, Industrial Pollution, Lead, Particulate Matter, Ozone]


Please also see earlier article:

[Title: Beijing's Infernal Air Pollution Will Kill A Few Olympic Athletes; Most US Athletes Will Wear Masks While Preparing for Their Events]

If you know Olympic athletes, physicians, sports enthusiasts, and internationally minded people, please forward this to them, and to friends and colleagues. If you comprehend that we could prevent a few athletes from inevitable expiration in the Beijing smog, you can also email Mr. Rogge directly:

Stephen Fox, Contributing Editor Santa Fe Sun News

Photo Essay: Close Up of Bird’s Nest Stadium Engulfed in Beijing Smog:




One by my wise sardonic friend, James Fallows, Washington Editor Atlantic Monthly:

Don said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

URL: http://www.2008chinaolympics.com
Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,


Kateland, aka TZH said...

Don, I am not really sure I am your target audience but I might consider giving it a go if you tell me how you really feel about Zionism.