Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New York Times Article

Beijing Air Thick on Monday By Juliet Macur BEIJING – Erinn Smart, a fencer on the U.S. team, saw the thick haze blanketing this city Monday morning and knew it would mean trouble. Soon after, she felt a tickle in her throat, and the inevitable began. “I have bad allergies, so I started to cough because of the bad air out there,” Smart said, before a training session at Beijing Normal University. “Then someone mentioned to me, ‘Hey, why don’t you just put on your mask?’ But I didn’t want people to see me wearing it and say, ‘Why is she wearing that? She’s a fencer. She competes indoors!’” While the sky was blue several days last week, it was smoggy and humid here Monday, four days before the opening ceremony for the Beijing Games. Storms are expected in Beijing over the next few days, which could clear away the smog. But some athletes, like Smart, have already felt the effects of the humidity and pollution. While Olympic organizers had promised blue skies for the Olympics, United States Olympic Committee had planned ahead for this. To filter out the polluted air, they issued specially designed masks to some of U.S. athletes. Convincing athletes to wear those masks is another task altogether. “It’s been like, ‘Who’s going to start the trend of wearing that mask?’” Smart said. “No one wants to be the first.” The poor air quality on Monday wasn’t a universal problem for Olympic athletes already in Beijing. Some with asthma, like U.S. weightlifter Carissa Gump, said they felt fine. Going into Beijing, however, Gump said the air quality was a concern. Gump said she has qualified to use an inhaler to open up her airways while competing internationally. But she did not qualify to use one here at the Olympics, which she said has stricter standards. At a training session Monday, Gump saw a Thai weight lifter wearing something akin to a dental mask. That raised eyebrows, she said. “I thought it was funny because the problem here is just the visibility and not really pollution,” Gump said. “When I competed in Thailand last year, I used a nasal spray and allergy medicine, but here, I haven’t had any problems at all.” Giselle Davies, spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee, said the inconsistent air quality in the last week likely has been an issue of heavy humidity and not pollution. If pollution levels are too high on competition day, the I.O.C. has said it would postpone endurance events like cycling or the marathon. Athletes in those events would be more affected by bad air because they would spend more time in it. Check out the actual article at the address below, there are photos that go with the article as well.... http://olympics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/04/beijing-air-thick-on-monday/

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! The NY Times!!! I got a copy. Three days left! Good Luck.

Uncle Bob