2022 Beijing Olympics: Chinese Authorities Warn of Air Pollution Risk Ahead of Winter Games

by Suzanne Halliburton
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With two weeks to go before the start of the Beijing Olympics, the thick smog in the city made it very unfavorable for any kind of outdoor activities.

In fact, the air quality was so bad that a dangerous pollutant registered 40 times higher than what’s recommended by the World Heath Organization.

This part of China has a bit of a reputation when it comes to air. Anyone who watched the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing remembers the smog warnings for the athletes and fans.

Smog outside the Olympic National Stadium, Beijing in August, 2008 (Photo by Gareth Copley – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Can the Government Clean the Air In Time for the Beijing Olympics?

On Monday, government officials said they would fix the situation before the kickoff of the Beijing Olympics. Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for Feb. 4. The Chinese government authorized local officials to take action to improve the air.

Liu Youbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said Beijing will focus on companies and vehicles that generate high pollution levels. The government’s standard for PM2.5, a hazardous airborne particle, is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air. On Sunday, the reading in Beijing was higher than 200. WHO recommends 5.0.

It could be worse by next weekend. That’s when the country celebrates Lunar New Year’s Eve with lots and lots of fireworks.

Meanwhile, NBC Announcers Will Cover All Action from Connecticut Studios

Smog isn’t the only bad news coming out of China. Because of Covid concerns, NBC is sending few correspondents to cover the Beijing Olympics in person. In fact, all the announcers will call the action from the NBC studios in Connecticut. So when you flip on figure skating or skiing, know that the announcers getting so excited about what’s transpiring are watching a network feed from thousands of miles away.

Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski comment on figure skating for NBC (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

“The announce teams for these Olympics, including figure skating, will be calling events from our Stamford (Conn) facility due to COVID concerns,” an NBC spokesperson confirmed to People magazine.

“We’ll still have a large presence on the ground in Beijing and our coverage of everything will be first rate as usual. But our plans are evolving by the day as they are for most media companies covering the Olympics.”

NBC indicated that it is sending 250 employees to the Beijing Olympics. But other media companies are cutting way back. For example, ESPN is sending no one. A number of media organizations also did similar cut backs for last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, which already were delayed by a year because of the pandemic.

China recorded its first case of Omicron earlier this month and the government started immediate lockdowns to control the spread. Because of Omicron, the Beijing Olympics stop selling tickets to the general public. Instead, invited groups of spectators will be allowed in the venues.

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