Anyone who has ever been to China knows the air pollution there is horrendous. The cities are beyond the pail when it comes to air quality, and if that's not bad enough, when dust blows in from the Gobi Desert, then breathing truly can be hazardous to one's health. Ditto Istanbul, Mexico City, Jerusalem (dust storms from North Africa) and plenty of other places around the world. After traveling in China for four weeks back in the mid-80s, I returned to the USA with such a terrifying bronchitis and cough from all the pollution that I split my insides coughing and got a hernia. A four hour major surgery healed the after-effects of that trip and I vowed not to return anywhere known for such air pollution for more than a few days at a time.
Now that China prepares for the 2008 Summer Olympics , it's fascinating to see this in the news. I wonder from my own experience if more athletes will follow suit and also drop out of various events for the same reason.
If I were a long distance runner like I'd do the same thing. Not worth it. With events there in the heat and polloution, I can't imagine wanting to go. And at least one Ethiopian runner is approaching the events with a realistic perspective:
'.... Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, 34, is a favourite for a gold medal this summer but is likely to focus instead on the 10,000 metres because he suffers from asthma.
“The pollution in China is a threat to my health and it would be difficult for me to run 42km in my current condition,” he said. “But I am not pulling out of the Olympics altogether.” '