Air Pollution and the Olympics

The problem of air pollution in Beijing, China has been dominating the headlines for the upcoming Olympics, but officials say the air quality is improving. Even so, how will it affect the world-class athletes?

FromAugust 8-24, the 2008 Olympics will be in full swing in Beijing, China,but air pollution is at the forefront of many organizers' minds. Infact, earlier this week the International Olympic Committee's topmedical official

said

that although the air quality shouldn't affect athletes' health, it"could affect world-class performances." Some athletes are unwilling torisk their health to complete. The world record holder for themarathon, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia who suffers fromexercise-induced asthma, has already withdrawn from the event. He is"one of a long list of athletes and officials to have voiced concernover pollution." These statements make me wonder just how many athleteswill withdraw and how it will affect the competition, especially thosewho are considered to be "the best" in their event.

What I don'tunderstand is if air pollution is such a big deal, why did the IOCdecide to hold the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in the first place? Maybefrom now on this problem will be addressed when choosing the host citywhere future Olympics will be held."