One American blogger, Wendy Gold Rose wrote this on her blog today, and you can't help but love her blunt candor:
"Why would the IOC choose to host an event for the world's healthiest people knowing there's a strong likelihood the 10,000+ participating athletes will keel over and die after a few weeks of physical exertion? Well, maybe not die ... but they're definitely going to get sick from all the dust, smog and stench. I mean, come on! They are actually telling athletes NOT to come until the very last minute. They've even predicted that many of them will do worse than normal because of the smog martini they'll be forced to consume."
Human Rights without Frontiers International urged the IOC to press China on the issue as well as on its human rights record. "China's toxic air reflects its equally foul human rights record," said Reggie Littlejohn, a US lawyer advising the Brussels-based group. "It appears doubtful that Beijing will take the robust and decisive measures required to ensure safe air for the Olympics."
Not surprising that news of these matters is always very slow to reach very far into the Chinese Environmental Potemkin Village to become known to the Chinese people, with BBC transmission mysteriously "interrupted" when these stories came on the air.
Chinese government officials recently reported levels of pollutants like
sulphur dioxide dropped a lot last year and rank and file Beijing citizens and military have been conscripted into clearing the stinking algae bloom in the yachting and sailing areas near Qingdao.
The Beijing Organizing Committee concedes that China has failed to meet
pollution-busting targets from 2006, but says critics like me are just
interested in creating "noise pollution" and that everything will be peachy
for athletes and the 3+ million Olympic visitors.
International Olympic Committee has with no enthusiasm quasi-supported
Beijing's efforts to combat pollution and in rather blase notations, said
that these Olympics will not be likely to bring new record in endurance
events. IOC's chief inspector, Hein Verbruggen, said Beijing "looked ready,"
and that IOC needs "to see how temporary measures in the city will make an impact on air quality".
China scrambled and did all it could to get the Olympics describing them as
the "Green Games" to show off combating pollution and encouraging
sustainable energy use, although Beijing remains choked with smog three
times the maximum allowed for by the World Health Organization. Chinese love to use that charming nonchalant excuse that they are a "developing nation," the location of factories making most of the world's industrial products, and too bad about pollution being a necessary by-product, because of that old Communist adage: The Ends Justify the Means.
United Nations Environmental Programme is worried above all about
particulate matter. One BBC reporter managed to get a detector past Customs Officials to test for particulate matter, finding that Beijing's air six out of seven days to meet WHO's air quality guidelines.
Her big "Enviromental Ace in the Hole," Beijing has an odd-even licence plate system starting on 20 July, which theoretically will result in half of the 3.3 million cars not being on the highway for entire time frame for the the Games.
Five coal-fired power plants are trying to cut emitted pollution; Beijing has forced the factories in nearby surrounding provinces stop work or cut production to clean the city's air; trees by the millions have been planted and dust clouds from building sites kept under control.
Exercise physiologists have long ago proven that endurance athletes breathe inhales 10 times as much air as office workers. Canada, Germany, France, Israel and the United States have training camps in Japan instead of Beijing before the Olympics.
Australian cyclist Stuart O'Grady has spoken out about "insane" health
risks faced by cyclists. he and his fellow-cyclists face. The governing body
for athletics in Australia said that it did not want its athletes marching
in the opening ceremony because of the pollution.
The Chinese are trying, at least, but saying that is merely an attempt at polite concession. As that most astute Olympic journalist from Ireland Mr. Coonan points out: the Communist Party has single-party rule; it could grind the entire nation to a screeching halt in order to bring down pollutioln levels if it needs to, and it most certainly needs to do.
So what if China is spending $20 billion to greenify Beijing? That is parking meter change compared to the trade balance they have presently with the USA; they get to keep the improvements, and they aren't as dumb as the USA to pour $300 billion a year down the drain of Afghanistan and Iraq and have nothing to show for it but a bunch of suicide bombers, for all of the USA's efforts....
The Olympic athletes themselves are the ones who will pay that permanent deep-downmitochondrial price, despite all of those thousands of Beijing hard workers putting so much nice colorful paint on 31 Olympic venues.
The Olympics' criticism noise (like mine) is not going to go away. It will
increase more in this last 30 days. Ultimately, I believe, Beijing will
indeed fail because of air pollution. Mark my word: Beijing will be
remembered as the Lethal Air Olympics in the minds of the masses and anyone who watches them on television in August 2008.
However, in the hearts of the families of the athletes who will most certainly die, it will be the locus for unspeakable tragedies, all of which could be avoided if Rogge and the Organizing Committee were take their responsibilities seriously and move the most endurance-oriented events entirely out of Beijing.