The four US cyclists arrived in Beijing wearing black protective gears called “mask” in the civilized world to highlight the poor quality of air in the Chinese capital for this summer Games.
Later on, out of conscience, I would like to believe, found out that the air was not as bad as it was portray to be. They removed their masks and apologized to the Beijing organizers insisting that their mask appearance was not meant to be an “environment or political statement.”
Olympic officials, including USOC officials, insist the masks are unneeded despite the stubborn smog. I do agree that the air in Beijing is less than perfect.
The Organizing Committee has put forth tremendous and unceasing efforts to ensure that the environment is suitable for top-north sporting activities. If I am not mistaken, there is this momentous task of taking half of Beijing vehicles off the road and closing thousands of factories in and around 50-80km range. I don’t think this was ever done before anywhere in the world.
When Beijing was awarded the Games in 2001, the air in the city was acceptable but seven years have passed since then and the air quality has reached this despicable level – 80 days out of 365 in a year the air are deemed unacceptable. The worsening pollution index was due largely to the excessive growth of polluted factories surrounding Beijing in tandem with the sizzling economic growth of the Chinese economy in the past 15 years. The situation is compounded further by the improved lifestyle of the average Chinese to own cars in line with the growth of per capital urban income resulting in an estimated 1,000 cars added to the traffic every day in the capital.
I would be lying if there is nothing wrong in the way the whole situation is being managed. Poor planning and uncontrolled approvals of polluted factories and probably, rampant corruptions were the main reasons for the hike in pollutants in the air.
Instead of trying to support and sympathize with the Beijing Organizers to resolve this particular situation, the Western journalist, athletes combined in a concerted prejudicial manner to humiliate and insult the Chinese authorities. I remember vividly that when South Korea staged the Olympics in 1988, the West was up in arms against the “door-eating habits” of the Korean people. If a Caucasian majority country like Britain, Spain, US or Switzerland host the Olympics, you would not have Western based athletes protesting or behaved in this manner?
Some of the comments made by China critics or anti-Communist groups, who have not even set foot in China, are totally unfounded and glaringly bias and prejudicial. Excerpts of this are published below:
“The Olympic committee made a big mistake allowing the Communist Chinese to host these games. From an environmental standpoint who knows what the athletes and spectators are breathing in every day they are in this filthy city. From a human rights standpoint the folks continue to oppress anyone who has any opinion not offered by the communist party. They have also ignored any number of agreements that they made with the olympic committee. These athletes have no need to apologise to these thugs who think that no one matters but themselves.”
“Pandering, appeasing American athlete @holes! If they want to wear masks, wear them. What's with the lame, ill-advised apology? Apology for not wanting to breathe Commie polluted air? Nothing wrong with protecting your American ****. But, while they're at it, why not lose on purpose in any competition the USA is in so some other country can win? We don't want them to feel bad, right?”
“Why should athletes apologize for protecting their lungs? The Commie PR Chinese govt demands apologies for EVERYTHING that interferes with their short-sighted environmntal 'policies' - AND with their MURDER OF TIBETANS.”
The Chinese authorities have never demanded an apology from these athletes. You cannot lump all Chinese as “commies” – this is so narrow in perspective and most racist Caucasians conveniently called all yellow-skinned, narrow slit eyes as Communists even in this advanced society today. Even if there are members, it is just an ideology – capitalists, socialists or communists? I thought the West with its so called freedom of speech would allow socialist or rightist parties to co-exist.
After reading all these comments, I feel sad that a majority of the people of the West felt this way and it is not only the 4 cyclists who displayed such attitudes.
Why? The blame lies with the continued one-sided reporting of the Western journalists on China and the negativity reflected in its opinions which have somehow influenced the American public to a larger extent. The pollution in China is not perfect but it is not that bad as given by the many Western media. Why can’t the Western media report the actual situation?
If the air is really that bad, it is not the athletes that would be the main cause of worry, it is the 8-10 million Beijing residents who have to torment with this poor air quality every day.
As one Chinese-American who puts it appropriately, “It is not SARs or avian flu, my grandparents still live in China so why wear masks”.