On the one hand, the constant refrain from both the IOC and the Chinese media is that the air poses no risk to the athletes. From Reuters:
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had warned it might reschedule events if the air quality posed a threat, but on Sunday it said there were no problems.On the other hand, we are still seeing many reports with detailed descriptions of how bad it is here. From The Oregonian:
"The readings that we were looking at indicated that we have no cause for concern at this stage," said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davis.
Last weekend, when days were hot, humid and still, the smoggy haze hung thick as a wool blanket. In her blog, [distance runner Kara] Goucher wrote:CNN summarizes, "Despite official assurances that the air is safe for competition, athletes and fans have expressed concern over the thick smog covering the entire city."
"I have to say that the pollution and smog in Beijing is much, much worse than I imagined. It's a bit eerie how the sun never comes out all day. If you are walking around the village and you look ahead, you can't see all of the buildings. The pollution creates a fog that clouds over everything. It is unimaginable. I am shocked by how bad it is."
However, not everyone is convinced that the air is all that bad. From the New York Times blog:
A handful of track and field athletes worked out on a rainy Sunday morning at the United States Olympic compound at Beijing Normal University, and most said they had not been bothered by the air quality in Beijing. They were adjusting to the humidity, but the pollution, they said, had not been an issue.This rift - between those who find Beijing's air quality acceptable and those who find it intolerable - that has opened up over the past few weeks is fascinating to me. Perhaps most interesting is that fact that the debate seems to be playing out on so many levels: technical, medical, psychological, political, and more. (I hope to blog in more detail on this topic later.)
In any case, no matter which side you take, at least we finally have some idea of what the air quality is going to be like during the Games. Since 8/8, the API has been up and down. And yet, with the API not "down" enough to make all the foreigners happy and not "up" enough to exceed the Chinese cut-off of 100, the result? Stalemate.