2008 March 11 Tuesday
China Air Pollution Obstacle For Olympic Athletes

When pondering business and vacation trips to China be sure to consider the damage to your health. The world record holder for the marathon refuses to run the marathon in Beijing's polluted air.

The world's fastest long-distance runner said yesterday he will not compete in the marathon at the Beijing Olympic Games because of the city's choking air pollution, a move that is prompting runners of all levels to reassess the net health benefits of going for a jog in the smog.

"The pollution in China is a threat to my health and it would be difficult for me to run 42 kilometres in my current condition," Haile Gebrselassie, the 34-year-old Ethiopian who many enthusiasts call the best distance runner of all time, told Reuters.

Gebrselassie is still going to race the 10000 meter. He has asthma and figures a marathon in Beijing's polluted air could do permanent damage to his sensitive lungs.

A friend who went to China told me that at one point she had to pull over the car she was driving to throw up because the air was so bad it had made her sick to her stomach. But of course Chinese officials paint a rosier picture.

"I believe the air quality will only become better and better in Beijing," Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said when asked about running eat Haile Gebrselassie's plans to skip the Olympic marathon because of pollution worries.

An Olympic tennis player might drop out too.

Justine Henin, the world’s top-ranked women’s tennis player and the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, said she was considering not competing in the Olympics because of air-quality concerns.

The International Olympic Committee made a serious mistake when it chose Beijing for the Olympics.

China's environmental protection agency is very small.

Environmentalists applauded the move to give the relatively small and weak environmental agency more clout, but noted that it is unclear how much additional budget allocation or staffing it will receive. The current State Environmental Protection Administration has about 300 employees, not including affiliated institutions. By comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has about 18,000 employees and an annual budget of about $7 billion.

So many people in China are very poor that the trade off between pollution control and economic growth in China is really not the same as in Western countries. Unfortunately the rest of the world part of what China dumps into the air and water.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 March 11 11:08 PM  China


Comments
Anonymous said at March 12, 2008 5:57 AM:

The PRC is full of shit. Their nation is an environmental disaster area, of which the air quality and the 3 Gorges Dam complex is but a small part. But since everyone has a hard-on for China they just had to have the Olympics there. Maybe Al Gore and other do-gooder Western environmentalist idiots could go to China and point out the error of their ways. I wonder why they haven't already?

kurt9 said at March 12, 2008 10:18 AM:

I've been to Beijing. Its polluted, but not as bad as people make it out here. I think Kaohsiung, Taiwan (where I lived for a year in 2000-2001) is worse. Most of the pollution in Taiwan comes from the 2-stroke engines used in the motor scooters that everyone drives around on. I found Shanghai, Ningbo, and Beijing (which I visited in '06) to all be less polluted than Taiwan, which I visited the same trips.

Of course, competitive Olympic athletes are likely to have problems with pollution levels that would not bother you or I.

Steve Sailer said at March 13, 2008 7:54 PM:

Gebrselassie is worth listening to. He's a smart guy who has kept his career going for a long time.

banana said at March 14, 2008 2:06 PM:

FREE TIBET!!! ALL OLYMPIC ATHLETES SHOULD DROP OUT BECAUSE THERE IS NO HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA.. PEOPLE ARE BEING KILLED BY THE GOVERNMENT, TREES ARE BEING CHOPPED OFF FOR THEIR ECONOMY. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THE ENVIROMENT!! CHINA ONLY CARES ABOUT MAKING MONEY AND SUGARCOATING EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG ABOUT THEM!! CHINA..GET THE FUCK OUT OF TIBET..!! FREE TIBET!! CHINA OUT OF TIBET!! TIBET WAS NEVER YOUR COUNTRY AND NEVER WILL BE..!!! FUCK OFF CHINA

Disgusted Canadian said at March 20, 2008 11:00 AM:

Kurt9 - you're nuts! The pollution in China is BRUTAL! Athletes don't smoke...but once they get to China..they'll be smoking 2 packs a day whether or not they like it. China should never have been given the Olympics. The Olympics aren't about athletes, its about economics and trade. If it was about athletes, China would never have even been awarded it because the air quality SUCKS!

Another point - The Olympic Charter States: The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

Apparently the IOC forgot this part of their Charter and awarded China.


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