Beijing Olympics 2008: With less than 30 days to the Olympic games, Chinese officials and businesses have actively been touting efforts to reduce air pollution. Even as visibility was down to a few hundred meters in the pollution-laden misty July weather, Beijing’s environmental bureau insisted that there will be clear skies for the August games.
Chinese corporations are trying to do their part to curb the smog. The Beijing Shougang Group has cut steel production by 70 percent and will take a 2 million yuan loss for the third quarter. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told the AP, “We are confident that atmospheric pollution will have no major impact on the Olympic Games.”
However, Olympic athletes are not quite as confident as Rogge in the Beijing climate. In the lead-up to the games, the Canadian Olympic Road Racing Team will train in Kyoto, Japan, thereby avoiding the streets of Beijing until the last possible second.
Perhaps the Canadians are right to raise a skeptical eyebrow at Rogge’s claims. As of early July, Beijing’s smog was five times over the safety limit and a few recent health studies have indicated that polluted air may affect blood circulation and athletic performance for asthmatics and non-asthmatics alike.
If the air pollution woes were not enough, Qingdao continues to be anchored down with an algae bloom. The Qingdao Sailing Committee spokesman intends to have the algae cleaned out by July 10 or by the government-imposed deadline of July 15 at the latest.
Yet another problem: A retired entomologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing attributes the plague of locusts in the northern provinces to overgrazing and the deteriorating environment of the grasslands.
Finally, in a seemingly counterintuitive move, the Beijing city government is pushing out about half of the city’s rubbish collectors and recyclers by the August 8 opening ceremonies.
Sochi Olympics 2014: Defending the somewhat controversial preparations for for the Sochi games, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the International Olympic Committee in June that “the environment” was a higher priority than fiscal concerns. At Putin’s request, some developers have already moved Olympic installations, such as the bobsled run that cut too close to a UNESCO-protected nature reserve.
Football: The NFL plants trees in Arizona and attempts to be a role model in “going green.”
Soccer: The township of Wayne, N.J., is changing the paint it uses to line its soccer fields in order to reduce exposure to lead.
Artificial turf: The CDC says it is still controversial.