We’re just one week away from the start of the 2008 summer games! Excited?! The opening ceremonies will be airing next Friday evening, with plenty of events starting the following day. I need to take the time and figure out what needs to be watched and recorded, and on what channels. The olympics always provide a nice diversion from the norm, it should be fun.
This year in particular, there are a few side-stories that I’m interested in seeing play out:
Pollution in Beijing
Ever since Beijing was awarded the 2008 summer games way back in 2001, they have been working on plans for curbing the pollution for the games. They have spent a fortune. According to this article out of China, they were planning on spending $3 Billion on pollution control in Beijing – last year alone. They’ve even employed a Research Center for Weather Modification (that’s a little scary, isn’t it?).
I’ve tried to find updated figures, but haven’t been able to really track any down. Probably because it isn’t working. They have shut down factories in something like 5 provinces and mandated a 50% drop in car traffic (you can only drive every other day, based on license plate), but the smog persists (note: that article puts the pollution control cost at $17 billion). It’s so bad that it’s nearly triple the World Health Organization’s acceptable levels, and at least one athlete has pulled out, guarding his health. The US Olympic Committee has apparently been developing a top secret mask to fight the pollution, and some teams are going to be wearing red contact lenses to help see through the haze.
So, it’s going to be interesting to see how many events will be impacted by this – both in delays and just poor performances by the athletes.
Censorship and criticism in Beijing
Related to the pollution topic, I’m curious as to how Chinese officials are going to react when they start hearing public/broadcast criticism of the poor air quality. Or will the broadcasters keep mum until they’re out of China?
The censorship issue is rearing its head again. China is known for its notorious censorship, in recent years for their stranglehold on the internet with the Great Firewall of China. When they were given the Olympics, they agreed to allow free access for visitors, but as of today that is a lie (can’t have a reporter looking up Amnesty International or reading about the monks’ plight!).
New Speedo Swimming Suit
With the help of NASA engineers, Speedo came out with a controversial new suit last year called the LZR (pronounced Laser). It’s controversial because of its amazing ability to reduce drag on a swimmer. Those countries that don’t have it are protesting its use, and those that do are breaking records at a dramatic pace. Only time will tell how many Olympic records are going to fall.
The Springfield area is seeing a local athlete in the competition. Kelci Bryant of Chatham, IL is competing in synchronized diving – definitely an event I normally wouldn’t watch, but will now. Good luck Kelci!
There’s an enormous algae bloom overtaking the water where the worlds best are supposed to compete. Thousands and thousands of citizens and fishermen are trying to clean it up – will it be enough???
It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks!
And on a related note, I saw a photo today on one of the news sites of a Chinese worker tending to the grass outside of the massive Olympic Greens. You know you have too many people when you’re cutting the grass with scissors!
Anyone else out there find any of this interesting?