Olympic-Sized Breathing Concerns

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has apparently determined that air quality in Beijing is acceptable for endurance events, but they have apparently drawn up contingency plans just in case the air quality makes it too dangerous to hold long-distance events. This issue got put on the front-burner when World Record Holder Haile Gebrselassie opted out of his preferred race, the marathon for concerns the air quality would be too much for his body to handle. Gebrselassie has exercise-induced asthma and expects other top endurance athletes to opt out of the Olympics or to follow his lead and focus on shorter events such as the 10k run.

BEIJING -- The IOC's top medical officer says Beijing's air quality is better than expected, although a study shows there are risks to athletes in outdoor endurance events and conditions may be less than ideal during this summer's Olympic Games.

Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's Medical Commission, said Monday that an analysis by four independent experts of data supplied by Beijing organizers found heat and humidity might be a greater threat to athletes than the city's noxious air.

IOC President Jacques Rogge has repeatedly said that outdoor endurance events would be postponed if the air quality is poor, which would be a huge embarrassment for organizers hoping to feature a clean, modern city.

Full article at ESPN.com.

Just when you think the Olympics are too corporatized to bother watching anymore, Beijing comes along. Oh, I'm sure NBC will once again manage to ruin their coverage of it by focusing more on the talking heads and "human-interest" side of the games instead of the actual contests, but I think that the pollution, the lack of civil rights, and the ongoing protests with the oppressed Tibetans can really combine to add some drama.

I'm very excited about the potential for someone to unfurl a string of Tibetan prayer-flags while taking a victory lap around the track (of course, we can't expect an American athlete to be this brave; Nike wouldn't like it). Or just imagine if someone literally coughed up a lung during the triathlon? Or maybe Katie Couric will
get deported for uploading footage to Youtube?

With possiblities like this, this whole Summer Olympics thing just might be worth waking up at 3am to watch after all.

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