The Olympics, buses and beach volleyball

I was thinking last night about what it would be like to participate in the Olympics in Beijing. You know. Like run the marathon — and in air quality conditions that may prove to be a little difficult at best. So I got up this morning a little earlier than usual. And I went and jogged for a while behind a Metro bus. Well, not really. But you get the idea.

Here’s the story as reported in the Wall Street Journal online this morning (by subscription only):

BEIJING — China has gone to Olympian lengths to try to ensure that its skies are clear for the Summer Games, which formally kick off in 10 days. It has spent $17 billion on antipollution measures in recent years. Last week, it forced more than a million cars off the streets, halted construction in and around the city, and temporarily closed hundreds of factories in surrounding provinces.

Good. And silly me. I thought all the officials in China were doing these past few months was cracking down on protesters and figuring out ways to limit the reporting of visiting journalists. What do I know?

Yet according to an article in The Washington Post, “Air Pollution Worsens After Controls Kick In,” things aren’t going exactly as planned:

Beijing’s air pollution index rose steadily this week at the same time the city has tried to cut traffic volume in half. Readings Thursday and Friday were over 100 and considered unhealthy for children, seniors and those with allergies or asthma.

The climb from a reading of 55 on Sunday to 110 on Friday — despite six days of forcing Beijing motorists to drive on alternate days — underscored the formidable challenge authorities face in trying to clear the air before athletes begin competing in the Aug. 8-24 Olympic Games.

Already, one marathon world-record holder has refused to compete in Beijing because of health and pollution concerns, and International Olympic Committee officials have said endurance events might have to be postponed because of the city’s unrelenting smog.

Oh boy. Athletic mask anyone? Well, yes. That’s actually the plan.

Hope it doesn’t interfere with women’s beach volleyball.

That’s the only Olympic event worth watching anyway.

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3 responses to “The Olympics, buses and beach volleyball

  1. Rob,

    Nice name, by the way.

    What struck me the other day while reading an article in Inc magazine was my opinion on all of the pollution in China. My initial thoughts on that were how awful it must be that in this day and age the government condones all of these polluting factories, but what I realized when reading that Inc. article is that I condone it too everytime I purchase a product that is manufactured over there.

    The article was about the difficulties some American businesses are going to face when China forces a lot of these factories to stop operations before and during the Olympics. Maybe they should reconsider their business model and how they manufacture whatever it is they sell and maybe I need to reconsider what I purchase day to day.

  2. Pingback: Free speech, Phoenix CC and China « PR on the run

  3. Well, I hope the Chinese government and the Olympic organizers don’t think that two guys named Rob are ganging up on them.

    You’re correct. We have no problem in this country buying products made in China. And that helps to fuel the economy in China — and create the expansion of manufacturing (and pollution) that was widespread in this country decades ago.

    Fortunately, we no longer manufacture anything in this country. Just kidding.

    I look at this primarily from a public relations perspective. China wanted to host the Olympics to showcase the country — and its economic development, etc. Fair enough. Yet in most situations like this, there is some bad along with the good.

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