Giant on the move
With just three weeks to go before the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics, the blue sky which had been seen over the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in Beijing recently, was giving way to smog again.
The Beijing Ministry for Environmental Protection was still showing data from Thursday (July 17) when the Chinese Air Pollution Index (API) showed a reading of API 77. This figure is valid up until 1200 local (0300 GMT), but the air quality at 0800 local time (0000 GMT) on Friday (July 18) was visibly much worse than the day before, when a blue sky could be seen over the Bird’s Nest.
API 77 is grade 2 in the Chinese system, meaning “comparatively good”, and counts as a “blue sky day” in Beijing. On Friday, the sky was dull at 0800gmt just before it started to pour with rain in Beijing, with the temperature at 27 degrees and 78 percent humidity.
Beijing has spent 140 billion yuan ($20.34 billion U.S. dollars) on environmental improvements over the last decade, the problem persists, however, particularly when there is no wind or rainy weather – as there will be in August. Further measures start this weekend, when Beijing will close more factories and force 19 heavy polluters to reduce emissions by 30 percent from July 20.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it might reschedule endurance events such as the marathon to prevent health risks to athletes competing for more than an hour.
See the latest video of air quality conditions around the Olympic Green here