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Olympic Athletes Face Environmental Hurdle in Beijing — Carectomy - Removing Cars from People

Olympic Athletes Face Environmental Hurdle in Beijing

by Kate Trainor on January 25, 2008

Beijing_SMOG Olympic Athletes Face Environmental Hurdle in Beijing

As the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics approach, the burning question on every endurance athlete’s lips actually relates to the painful burning they’re feeling in their throats: How the heck do we compete in all that smog?

Beijing’s pollution is largely due to vehicle exhaust, with coal-fueled factories and particles from construction projects exacerbating the situation. Chinese officials vow to have Beijing’s air cleaned up in time for the Olympics. They will limit vehicle traffic and close factories leading up to the event’s August 8th start.

Olympic officials point to successful past events in the typically smog-laden cities of Athens and Los Angeles. Los Angeles pulled off a dramatic reduction in air pollution by instituting voluntary traffic reductions during certain times of the day. The Chinese government should be able to clean their air, and I suspect there won’t be much that’s “voluntary” about the restrictions.

Olympic athletes, many of whom have competed in Beijing’s noxious air in the past, have their concerns. Even a significant improvement will likely be a long way from “clean air”; pollution levels typically run five times higher than the World Health Organization’s acceptable levels. Although the outdoor endurance athletes will experience the brunt of the damage, Beijing’s air quality has even been a factor in indoor venues in the past.

From the New York Times:

Colby Pearce, 35, an Olympic hopeful in track cycling from Boulder, Colo., said he saw smog floating inside the velodrome in Beijing. His throat became scratchy and he developed bronchitis, he said, because of air pollution.

“When you are coughing up black mucus, you have to stop for a second and say: ‘O.K., I get it. This is a really, really bad problem we’re looking at,’ ” he said.

Teams are forced to devise smog-beating strategies, which become proprietary – anything for an edge. Expect to see lots of athletes wearing pre-event masks, sucking on inhalers, and unfortunately experiencing allergies and asthma attacks. In fact, the US Olympic Committee will supply special masks with carbon filtration systems as part of the official gear given to each athlete.
Of course Beijing is the extreme example of a polluted city – but it’s indicative of the world’s collective values, the way we live, and how we treat ourselves. What kind of world is it when our most talented athletes, those whom we hold up as examples and who typify the strong, fit person struggle to breathe in their competition? Medical research continually emphasizes the importance of regular exercise to everyone’s health, yet we value the “convenience” of the automobile, or the $2 tchotchke from Wal-Mart, with the accompanying pollution and human rights violations, more than the very air we breathe.
Via the NYTimes.

Photo via flickr by kevindooley.


Related posts:

  1. Beijing’s Olympic Smog Reductions
  2. Beijing Adds to Subway Network, Drops Price
  3. China’s Fuel Efficiency One Step Ahead

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MarkR April 24, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Is there really anything good that can be said about L.V.? It was built by the mob, unapologetically billed as sin city and they don’t have a problem with being called the modern day sodam and gamoraha. Its now run by big business which is a legal version of the mob. Every married man and woman is tempted to cheat on their spouse with the whole, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” I’m sure almost every spouse cringes with fear when their spouse says they have to go to Vegas on “business.” Almost every single person is asked to their face with a “push card” to invite a hooker into their life for as short as 30 min hook up. It wastes electricity and water like there is no limit to either. The moral fabric of a person sole is constantly tempted.

Been there twice, no plan to ever go back. I specifically avoid the place because of the cesspool of moral decay that it is. And I wish and pray that more people would wise up, and stop forcing conventions on us there.

Sure there is a mono rail, and serves a great use getting people to conventions. But given the fact there is no redeeming value in the city, totally negates any “Green” window dressing they can come up with. High speed rail to this cesspool wouldn’t do as much good as abandoning the place and tearing it down. Now that some materials that need to be recycled for a better use.


2 Alek F April 25, 2008 at 5:48 pm

I think the Rail line should connect Las Vegas with [b]Los Angeles[/b], not necessarily Anaheim.
Studies have shown (along with common sense! ;) ) that most Southern California travelers to Las Vegas are from Los Angeles, not Anaheim.
So, why was Los Angeles omitted during the route studies – is beyond my comprehension! :’(
Let’s provide all possible efforts to build a DIRECT Rail line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.


3 Nick Aster May 1, 2008 at 7:13 pm

…a dump, I won’t disagree with that. It’s also nowhere near as “sinful” as it claims to be, it’s really a cartoon of sinful. New York is far more sinful if you want to go in that direction.

Anyway, among the zillions of things that bug me about vegas is that transportation is useless there. The strip is a 24/7 traffic jam and it’s impossible to get into any hotel without driving in circles for miles. Even the monorail is so far behind the hotels, it’s basically useless to bother walking to the station.

The best thing that could happen is that they connect the monorail to the airport – catching a cab there can sometimes take 30 minutes.

My primary reasoning? It would be a phenomenal way to introduce average people to the concept of effective public transit. Millions would ride it every year and return to their home towns asking “Why don’t we have a rail system to our airport?”


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