edit - 1032, 27 Jul 2008:
Makes more sense. The Games haven’t even started yet.
Beijing, as we know, is hosting the 2008 Olympics. There are numerous stories appearing around the web and in the print media about this…some good…some bad.
I thought a thread devoted to this subject would be a good place to bring all these together in one place.
Starting off with:
[quote]British defy Beijing over masks
From The Times, February 14, 2008
British Olympic authorities will risk offending their Chinese hosts at the Beijing Games this summer by allowing their athletes to wear masks while competing in order to contain the impact of air pollution.
The issue of pollution has dogged the lead-up to the Games and the Chinese are unlikely to enjoy having television pictures beamed around the world showing the likes of Paula Radcliffe running the marathon with a high-tech antipollution mask and looking as if she is a hospital surgeon.
Some countries, notably the United States, have arrived at the opposite conclusion and put their disinclination to offend the Chinese ahead of their desire for competitive advantage. If the pollution is as bad as is feared, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) may well issue its athletes with masks, but will simultaneously inform them not to wear them while competing.
“We have decided that we will not run the risk of creating bad relations with China by creating embarrassment by wearing masks during competition,” Dr Randy Wilber, the USOC senior sports physiologist, said. “Hopefully the bad air will not be an issue, but during competition you will not see any American wearing a mask.”
Politics and protocol will not lead the British Olympic Association (BOA) into following that stance. “This is a competitive issue,” Simon Clegg, the BOA chief executive, said. “We are in the business of trying to win medals here and beat our competitors. We are all hopeful that the Chinese authorities will have addressed this issue by August so the athletes are not put in a position where the measures we have put in place have to be deployed. But we are in the business of providing our athletes with competitive advantage. We need to put in place whatever strategies are appropriate to ensure that we give our athletes the best chance of delivering.”
The masks were commissioned by UK Sport’s Research and Innovation Unit and designed by scientists at Brunel University. Radcliffe and other athletes tested them at a training camp in South Africa last month.
The masks have a mouthpiece with a filter containing absorbent material. Further details have been closely guarded. Sports scientists in the leading Olympic countries have been involved in a secret competition to equip their athletes best for the conditions in Beijing. Inhalers are likely to be prescribed to borderline asthmatics who would not usually use them.
While the Americans will wear masks but not in competition, the Canadians and Australians will not wear them at all. The Australian Olympic Committee is taking a team of 70 medical specialists to Beijing, including doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, physiotherapists, masseurs and soft-tissue specialists.
Mike Tancred, media director of the Australian Olympic Committee, said yesterday: “We have a medical strategy already in place which all our sports are practising in the months leading up to the start of the Games. This strategy will give us an edge over the opposition.”
However, according to Michael Scordino, who is organising Celebration China – a five-day preOlympic festival in Qingdao, the sailing venue, in May – “appearances are important to the Chinese. There is this very deep philosophy of not losing face. Whether people will or will not wear masks, I have no idea, but it will be a great concern to them.”
The hosts have promised extreme measures to contain air pollution during the 17 days of the Games. However, the International Olympic Committee has already suggested that certain events may have to be postponed if the air quality is not good enough. That is a humiliation the Chinese would be desperate to avoid.
Times On Line[/quote]
Some countries are also shipping in their own food for their athletes due to the re-curring food safety issues in the PRC.