After the Seoul Olympics, using traffic control measures while hosting the Olympics in 1988, and also the 2004 Athens Olympics‘ using the same tactics for more than a decade before the Games commenced – to combat their major pollution problem – it is now the turn of the Beijing to do its pollution-reducing job.
In a bid to control the city’s poor air quality, it is conducting a ‘pollution prevention test’ for the fourth and the final day, by holding 1.3 million cars off the roads. But, disappointingly, the Chinese capital remained shrouded with smog on Monday even after banning cars with number plates ending in odd or even numbers off the road.
Pollution increasingly becoming worrisome for the Beijing Games organizers, Olympics Chief Jacques Rogge fears that if the city’s air quality was not up to scratch, some endurance events might have to be postponed! — one such event being the 174-km (108-mile) cycling road race.
Even though more than a third of cars are taken off from Beijing’s roads and a race course taking in the less polluted Great Wall climes, some competitors eventually clearly faced respiratory problems.
After the road race, Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans told Australia’s Sunday Telegraph,
I have a sore throat and lungs but unless we get everyone to stop driving for a month I guess there is not a lot we can do about it.
Though Beijing has spent huge on improving its environment, just shutting down or moving the worst industrial polluters or even taking old vehicles off the roads and extending the city’s rail and subway network will not help – it is a long process.
The vehicle emissions already in the air for decades need to be reduced continually and consistently to get the desired air quality.