Were the Beijing Olympic games the smoggiest on record?

Here’s a well-done news report produced 50 days before the opening ceremonies. It’ll be fascinating to see how much of a factor air pollution plays in upcoming marquis sporting events. Of course, longtime Angelenos need no such prompting. They remember how New York, Detroit, Moscow and other major world metropoles campaigned against L.A.’s bid for pre-1980 summer Olympics by charging that Southern California’s air would be too toxic for athletes and too obscuring for fans. One can only wonder what those same cities said after the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles, where smog and traffic reached record lows because the region undertook smart, basic steps against them. Alternative work hours. Trucks urged to drive at night. Nimble smog monitoring. Spread out events. How does this compare to the heavyhanded approach the Chinese took by outlawing millions of cars and shutting down thousands of factories in advance of the crowds? From the murky looks of things, and news reports that corroborate it, China didn’t learn much from Los Angeles’ sterling success battling those 3-D skies. We just couldn’t let summer pass without a farewell to Beijing. We’ll revisit the subject, perhaps when the athletes speak up more. If you recall, some U.S. athletes arrived for the games wearing gas masks. They later apologized to their hosts. Maybe the apologies should’ve come from the opposite direction? Don’t get us started on Chinese water pollution.

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