The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are less than a year away, and while China has been making significant efforts to clean up its notoriously smoggy city, some don’t think the ancient metropolis will be clean enough by the time the torch is relayed in. And some of its organizers are worried about whether certain events will be held at all.
According to the New York Times, the World Health Organization reported that water- and air-related pollutants in China kill about 750,000 people per year. In a recent air-pollution test, Beijing limited the city’s number of drivers for four days, and officials claimed the vehicle limit reduced pollution by 15-20 percent. If this is the case, Beijing will take similar initiatives during the games, but many countries don’t think this is enough. The Australian government recently decided that its athletes will not arrive in Beijing until just before the games begin, in order to limit their exposure to pollutants, the Times reported.
Aside from limiting vehicles from entering the city, Beijing has implemented recycling initiatives, begun planting trees and installing the first of 33 wind turbines to power the city, and have announced a host of additional eco-industrial projects. China also joined WHO’s Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) in 2006. The Olympic Games’ 2007 World Conference on Sport and the Environment will take place at the end of October, and plans to address the specific challenges that Beijing faces.
From the parallel bars to the pentathlon, IT loves the Olympics. We realize that cleaning up a city as big and as populous as Beijing is no easy feat, but we’d like to remain optimistic that this world-treasured event can help turn the city around.
- Nat Geo Expeditions