Today kicked off the first day of a two month long restriction on car use in Beijing in preparation for the Olympics. Basically residents can only use their cars on alternate days depending on whether their license plate ends in an odd or even number. In addition, buildings and factories are being ordered to cut their emissions by 30%.
I don't know where the tennis venue is situated but if you thought Nole's breathing problems were an issue in Australia, you ain't seen nothing yet. Just think about all those players who rely on their fitness to win them matches (Rafa, JJ, Ferrer). How is the pollution going to impact them?
As reported by NBC:
Despite architecturally adventurous venues and $40 billion spent on improving infrastructure, China's greatest challenge has been keeping the city's air clean for the world's greatest athletes participating in the Aug. 8-24 games. Instead of blue skies, Beijing's skyline is normally shrouded with a thick gray haze.
Already, many competitors are choosing to train away from Beijing, and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has said outdoor endurance events lasting more than an hour will be postponed if air quality if poor.
The world's greatest distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, has decided not to run the marathon event because the city's pollution irritates his breathing.
Experts say the city cleanup measures could still go wrong because unpredictable winds might blow pollution into Beijing, or the lack of wind - common in August - could enable local pollution to build up.
This Olympics is going to be a shit show, folks. China is in for a rude awakening when all the world descends on this typically secreted and shrouded country. The Olympics is supposed to be the culmination of the best that sport has to offer, but when the venues and the organization can't get it together, what's the point? You're setting the athletes up for failure.
Already I have heard anecdotal accounts from some of my friends who are based in and around China that Western journalists are being kicked out of the country, and curfews have been put in place in the major hot beds of social activity. An unexpected algae outbreak has made the lake where the sailing competition was to be held unnavigable for boats and thousands of people have been working at the lake to manually extract the algae (and let's not talk about the environmental impact of these harvesting efforts). Legitimate questions over media freedom still linger, political activists are being detained by the government, and migrant workers are being forced from there homes and out of the city. They've even implemented an "Etiquette Campaign", which tells people they need to form an orderly queue, shower, and probably not spit too much.
Buckle up, folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride.