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Beijing Olympics 2008, Beijing, China

Thursday 09 Aug 2007

Officials see red over “green” Olympics

Photograph: Associated Press 
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Air quality may not be fit for purpose 

It is meant to be the Formula One of athletics, the best of the best, but less than one year before China’s prestigious Olympic Games are set so commence, Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that Beijing’s pollution problems are so severe that that some events may have to be cancelled. The Beijing Olympic organising officials refused to comment. The quality of air is probably the most vital element for the Games and questions are being asked if it will be “fit for purpose”.

On the 19 June 2007 pollution in the city reached an air pollution index (API) of 202, ranking it a grade 4A which; “aggravates symptoms of cardiac and lung disease patients, reduces the endurance during exercise and produces symptoms in healthy crowds.” This is a huge embarrassment for the Chinese authorities who are spending a rumoured £10 billion on the Games.

China won its bid for the 2008 games in part by vowing to put on a "Green Olympics". Officials promised to pour $12.2 billion into cleaning up by reducing atmospheric concentrations of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide to meet the requirements of the World Health Organization. As this celebration of the one year mark clearly shows, a lot of work still needs to done.

It’s not for want of trying as officials have been battling to make at least some of that happen. Preparation work has included the closure of Chairman Mao's infamous blast furnaces, streets ripped up to build subway lines and upgraded sewage treatment plants. Tens of millions of trees and pulverized a nearby mountain for fresh soil. ............. read more

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