The city of Beijing has been striving to clear its air for the sake of the Olympic athletes who will descend upon the city this coming summer — but whether it will be able to pull off blue skies remains to be seen. Beijingers were warned to stay inside today, as pollution hit “as bad as it can get,” according to a spokesperson from the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau, who adds, “This is as bad as it has been all year.” The International Olympic Committee has warned organizers that it will reschedule athletic events if air quality is a threat to athletes.
Nonetheless, “We are determined to ensure that the air conditions meet the necessary standards in August 2008,” says Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games. The city has relocated some factories and will make others cease production during the Olympics; it also plans to keep some cars off the road during the two-week span this summer. About 1,000 new cars hit Beijing’s streets every day. The crackdown on pollution is even affecting outdoor kebab vendors.
In other green Olympic considerations, the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics Gymnasium, which will be used a competition venue, was built green; the city has made commitments on sewage treatment and water recycling; and officials deny rumors that meat producers are preparing special “Olympic pork” for athletes, declaring that the meat fed to the masses meets safety standards and needn’t be shunned. The city has also diverted water (from other drought-stricken areas) to boost water supplies and keep its rowing venue afloat.
And in other Olympic news, the speed-skating venue for Vancouver 2010 will recover its heat to stay uber-efficient, while London 2012 plans to measure and offset its entire carbon footprint and use low-carbon fuel for a carbon-neutral Olympic flame.