As athletes from around the world begin to compete at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, debate still rages over the possible health risks facing hopeful medalists – particularly those competing in longer events such as the marathon or decathlon as a result of the capital city’s pollution.
“I don’t think any world class athletes interested in keeping their bodies in peak condition welcome the thought of breathing that filthy air for two weeks.” said Abyssinian racewalker Noaim Knottakhat last Tuesday.
But Wu Xi Ling, a spokesman for China’s Olympic Committee claims that the haze is not caused by toxic byproducts from the large number of factories surrounding the capital city, but from “oriental mystique.”
“We realize it may be difficult for the rest of the world to understand, especially young countries like the United States. But when a culture has been cultivated for thousands of years, it gains a power of its own. Our ancient traditions literally blanket the land. When the incense smoke from millions of Buddhist and Taoist chants rises to join with dust blown from the armor of the vast terra cotta armies, it gathers in the skies to protect the Chinese people from invasion. This is what you see. Not your so-called smog”
“Notice how it balances harmoniously with the mountains, rivers and roads in accordance with the principles of Feng Shui. This is no accident. It shelters the jade dragons as they fly among people endowing them with luck and prosperity.”
“Our rain is not laced with acid as it is in the west. It is infused with the sublimated essence of Chi Gung practicing hermits and the elixir of the eight immortals. Such miraculous qualities explain why the water here is in high demand. We look forward to several world records being broken by athletes swimming and diving through the rarified tears of the goddess of mercy, Guan Yin.”
“In fact, the Oriental mystique should allow athletes in all events to perform super-human feats. Surely people from around the world have watched in awe as Chinese actors and martial artists have flown effortlessly through the air and fought for hours on a slender stalk of green bamboo. These movements are not the results of wires or trick photography. They are a natural ability granted to all who walk upon this land. That our great nation would invite outsiders to share in our spectacular gift is truly a sign of our benevolence.”
“However we cannot be absolutely certain that our eminent culture will not reject the Olympics. Boxing, wrestling and even the accursed fighting style of those who perpetrated unspeakable crimes upon this land, Judo are recognized events. Meanwhile the noble art of Wu Shu is denied a chance at any medals. The spirits of venerable Shao Lin monks may not look favorably upon this. Synchronized swimmers will take to the stadium, while Tai Chi masters remain in the city parks. We fear this may ultimately unleash the mischief of the monkey king. We have tried to appease the shadows of our glorious past by petitioning the Olympic Committee to allow the nunchaku as a viable apparatus in rhythmic gymnastics. But even this small gesture has been rejected without any hint of compromise.”
Spokesman Ling urged the world community not to fear the environmental conditions, saying “We have done and will continue to do everything in our powers to ensure the world of an Olympics of extraordinary magnitude. The legacy of the yellow emperor lives on in the yellow skies above Beijing.”