The summer Olympics are in Beijing this year, opening at 8:00pm on 08/08/08. Apparently eight is the luckiest number of all because it sounds like the Chinese word for prosperity. Things may not work out as well as they had hoped.
The world-record holder in the marathon, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, has said he would not run the marathon because of the air pollution level in Beijing. He will attempt to qualify for the shorter 10,000 meter which should be easier on his lungs. Other athletes may skip the opening ceremonies and only spend minimal time in the country. Possibly more embarrassing for the Chinese, some athletes may wear face masks unless they are competing.
The Chinese have spent $16 billion trying to improve the air quality for the Olympics. Factories have closed or been relocated, others will not operate during the Olympics, 1.5 million cars will be banned from the streets, and they have planted a 1,750 acre forest north of the Olympic village to increase the oxygen levels.
How bad is it? "The average amount of airborne particulate matter, known as PM10 in environmental jargon, is six times the standard recommended by the World Health Organization."
The joke is that rather than training at high altitudes or sleeping in oxygen tents, athletes may train by running behind a bus.
The Chinese are also planning efforts to control the weather. Beijing averages 7 inches of rain in August. There are plans to induce rain before the games to cleanse the air of pollution, then prevent rain during the games. Good Luck.