Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The smog olympics

Not fog...filthy air

The Olympic games in Beijing are just days away, and Chinese officials are resorting to drastic measures to clear up the air. They're also resorting to some fairly amusing rhetoric to allay peoples' fears.
It is only a week since the government introduced an odd-even number plate system which bars more than one million of Beijing's 1.3 million passenger cars from the streets. Now the government is considering banning 90 per cent of private cars and closing more factories as a last-ditch attempt clear the skies before the games start on 8 August. Beijing has already spent 120bn yuan (£8.9bn) on tackling the pollution, to no avail.
In trying to convince the world that the air will be safe for athletes and other visitors, the authorities are issuing statements and rules that could only be vomited up by a commie bureaucracy:
"The air quality in Beijing during the Olympic Games will not affect the health of athletes," said Du Shaozhong, deputy director of Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, the man charged with soothing fears that the Games may be a smoggy event. [Note that he's not actually charged with doing anything about the air quality. --ed.] Athletes planning to bring respirators were only adding unnecessarily to their baggage weight, said Mr Du, who emphasised that the figures showed the air quality was improving: "A blue sky doesn't mean the air quality is good. If you take a shower, you can't see clearly because of the steam, but it doesn't mean it's pollution."

"We can guarantee a good environment for athletes. The International Olympic Committee and its medical commission have concluded that good air quality is fully guaranteed," Mr Du added.

[ ... ]

It is still not clear exactly how bad the air has to be for an event to be cancelled, and it is forbidden to bring in measuring equipment for any independent measurement of air quality.
I'm going to make a bold prediction here and now: Existing Olympic records, at least in the endurance events, are pretty safe this year.

Some day the world will ask the International Olympic Committee how it was they came to choose a host nation with not only a complete disregard for basic human rights, but for basic human health.

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