Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lost in the Fog

I greatly admire George Vecsey, the sportswriter for the New York Times. Here's a link to his coverage of the Olympic men's bicycle road race (152 miles).

An excerpt is a quote from Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, (IOC):

“The fog you see is based on the basis of humidity and heat. It does not mean to say that this fog is the same as pollution. It can be pollution, but the fog doesn’t mean necessarily that it is pollution.”

It's tempting to say that Rogge doesn't have a superb command of English, and that would explain the ambiguity of this statement. Me, I think it's rubbish. Rogge is trying to say something that is less than a bald-faced lie, and not succeeding at it.

The cyclists call it pollution, and I tend to believe them. "Grandpa" George Hincapie said these were the worst conditions under which he had ever raced.

This is a scandal, and the IOC's and the US Olympic Committee's (USOC) transparent responses to pressure from their Chinese hosts is disgraceful. Consider this story: The USOC issued the specially designed masks to protect athletes from the potentially harmful air in Beijing. Randy Wilber, the USOC's main exercise physiologist, advised the athletes to wear the masks on the plane and as soon as they stepped foot here. Which is precisely what the US Track-cycling team did (see photo). Then, after being scolded by USOC officials who told them "the Chinese were mad," they apologized to the press. For doing what is (1) prudent and (2) what they were advised to do. This sucks big time. I'm probably going to boycott TV coverage of these Olympics because it angers me so. (Update: I didn't. It was good to see the American swimmers and roundball players rock.)

Vecsey describes the air as "Hot and furry and persistent". Ugh. I'll leave it at that. Put on your masks, people.

Update: Here's a followup in the NYT from a pulmonologist.

Photo Copyright© 2008 The New York Times Company

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