Beijing's National Stadium, which is nicknamed 'Bird Nest', covered with smog. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP PHOTO)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The air in Beijing is heavy with a whole lot more than anticipation in advance of the Summer Olympic Games which begin in less than 2 weeks. Pollution in China's capital is reaching dangerous levels.
Chinese state media reports that if the air quality doesn't improve, they could pull up to 90% of the cars off the road in Beijing and shut down more factories. This comes after an air pollution control plan implemented over a week ago – it included pulling half of the city's 3 million vehicles off the roads, closing factories in and around Beijing and halting most construction. So far it hasn't worked.
For the last 5 days, Beijing's air pollution index has failed to meet the standard for "good" air quality, with visibility reduced to several hundred yards. Just the kind of stuff you want your athletes breathing.
More than 10,000 athletes and hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected for the games. Some teams, including our own, are offering optional breathing masks for their athletes.
And pollution isn't the only issue plaguing the Beijing games. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is warning China not to use Olympic security as an excuse to crack down on legitimate dissent. Chinese officials have made several terror-related arrests and insist that the Olympics are threatened by terrorists. But some are concerned China – which hasn't presented much evidence in these crackdowns – is just going after people who disagree with them. Most experts say the threat from terrorists is low.
And then there are the free-speech activists and those focused on Tibet and Darfur who have gone after China ahead of the summer games.
Here’s my question to you: In light of pollution in Beijing among other issues, was it a mistake to award the Olympic Games to China?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Nathan from Chicago writes:
Not only was it a mistake, but it’s embarrassing to the people of China. I have a Chinese friend who confirms this. He says China has too much poverty to host the Olympics. Plain and simple without skimming over any of the other issues. Told me he's clueless as to why they were awarded the Olympics. Our government couldn't care even if it wanted to because of the trillions of dollars in debt our government has chained us to when it comes to dealing with China.
Chad from Los Angeles writes:
Great pictures of pollution in Beijing! Glad I don't have to go and breathe that air, but then again, I am in Los Angeles, so I get my fair share...
Debbie from Dallas writes:
It wasn't a mistake for awarding the games to them. It was a mistake that China didn't work diligently to reduce issues such as the pollution and fix their human rights issues before 2008. They had years to make an impact, didn't they?
Kyle from Dayton, Ohio writes:
Has China received any good publicity for the Olympic Games? Horrible pollution and unbelievable government censorship are the keynote stories thus far. The Olympic Games places China under a microscope highlighting numerous issues that are continually disregarded by Chinese authorities. Maybe the Olympics will improve the life of the average Chinese people – something far greater than any sporting event.
Buster from Poughkeepsie, New York writes:
I don't know about you Jack, but I'm really looking forward to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing… I can't wait to watch all the sprinters and long-distance runners flying around the track in their colorful Hazmat suits, huffing and puffing through their state-of-the-art gas masks… But, I have to admit, the most interesting event will be the women's pole-vaulting competition, where fabulously fit females disappear into the smog and reappear with third degree burns from the sulfuric-acid atmosphere. Nothing beats holding the Olympics in a Superfund Site.