One of the many concerns for athletes and others around the world prior to the Olympic Games was the health standards and pollution in China. Athletes expressed their desire to move the games and some even went so far as to not compete in the Olympics because of China’s poor health standards and pollution record. Some time ago, I wrote a post that described the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) regulations and standards that China had to meet in order to officially host the games. China obviously passed those IOC’s tests and hosted the games with great pride and passion.
During the games, we did not hear much about the pollution or the city’s continuing smog problems and heat issues. We did not see any athletes or spectators wearing masks to cover their face, nor did we see any protesters. NBC did not talk much about any other health concerns or issues that everyone was talking about before the games got started. This was done to make the Olympic Games and all the prestige that goes along with hosting the games continue, even in China. And although we did not hear much about any health risks or other issues, they certainly existed.
Now that the Olympics are over we can talk about the real affect that China’s pollution and weather had on the athletes and on this summer’s Olympic Games.
The smog cloud was still visible around Beijing and in many other big cities in China. The pollution and smog in China along with the mass influx of many more people into the city, caused for an increase in heat and humidity throughout the games. The AP reported that this was especially evident in the Olympic Green Tennis Courts.
According to the AP, “big-name players were sweating through practices in sauna conditions. Women’s number two Ana Ivanovic appeared exhausted during a work-out on Wednesday, doubling up on court to catch her breath. World number one Rafael Nadal and other players beaded with perspiration have been toweling off and drinking gallons of liquid as they go through their routines in the oppressive heat.”
The open aired tennis facilities were not the only place the heat and humidity were seriously felt. For the first time in Olympic soccer history, the final game was stopped thirty minutes into each half to give the teams a break. The heat and humidity were too much, soaring over 90 degrees. Officials were worried about heat exhaustion and injuries.
The heat was felt all over the country, by athletes and spectators. Although it might not have been publicized and NBC’s coverage did not highlight it, the athletes certainly felt it. Even if they did not think about the pollution or the humidity surrounding them, it was evident. Imagine Usain Bolt’s world record time in optimal conditions. Many other world records were shattered this year. We can only speculate and guess if more would have been broken had the pollution and smog not existed. Without the Beijing affect and with continuing technology improvements (like the Speedo LZR racer), I expect the 2012 Olympic games in London to have even more world records broken.