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The Hamilton Spectator
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Thursday August 7, 2008
American athletes arriving to compete at the 2008 Olympics and wearing protective masks inside the Beijing airport they were acting like jerks.

Yeah, no kidding, the air in Beijing is worth complaining about.

These are athletes at the peak of their conditioning. But they can't endure the air inside a building? While they're walking, rather than running or breathing hard? And for the few minutes it would take to get past all the photographers and into the privacy of their buses or cars?

But complaints should come in the context of realizing that Chinese officials, companies, and citizens actually have done quite a lot to try to cope with the problem (details here) -- and that it's sad in many ways, rather than contemptible, that the first view the world's TV audience will have of spiffed-up Beijing will be of the opaque gray-brown skies. Unless, of course, there's a big cleansing wind out of Mongolia right now.

It's embarrassing enough for the Chinese hosts that the air looks so bad. It's tasteless, prissy, and showboating for visitors to rub it in this way. (Again, I'm talking about wearing the masks inside, in front of cameras, while standing around -- not sensible precautions for training.) More...

About those U.S. cyclists with gas masks
Center lower