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U.S. Olympic Athletes and Those Face Masks

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on August 6, 2008

Not exactly the nicest way to show thanks to your hosts: According to this story from Reuters, six members of the U.S. Olympic cycling team arrived at the Beijing airport yesterday “wearing respiratory masks, apparently concerned over reports of unhealthy levels of air pollution in Beijing.” Certainly Beijing has a serious pollution problem. But face masks in the airport? Because there’s so much smog in the air-conditioned terminal? Really?

The poor spokeswoman for the cycling team, Andrea Smith, had to do some damage control for the one-fingered salute. “I don’t believe there was any statement trying to be made,” she told Reuters. Sure. Unfortunately for the Chinese government and the IOC, the cyclists aren’t going to be the only athletes donning masks like these in the next few weeks. Pictures of Olympians wearing face masks in the Beijing airport, around the Olympic Village or on their way to or from the venues might prompt a strong online backlash from offended Chinese. This could quickly get ugly.

Reader Comments


August 6, 2008 12:12 PM

They just learned from the reports like from BW.

Anyway, that's not a shame of the mask-wearer, but a shame of western media like BW.

I hope Chinese would remind these guys of wearing masks at anytime, any day before they leave Beijing.


August 6, 2008 1:29 PM

i think the US was just out doing it...i mean there is pollution in beijing..but come on..the australian team walked in there without any masks.

Jerry Hendricks

August 6, 2008 3:58 PM

The Chinese are about saving face. If they would clean up their air qualty then they too would save face. If they want to protect their health then let them. The Chinese need to stop crying! I really hope the world wakes up and demands that China dropes their stand on Taiwan and Tibet. They are a communist country not our friend! People need to wake up. Buy American or from other counties!


August 6, 2008 4:22 PM

With or without masks, I hope that cool heads can prevail in the hot August. I’m sure that those athletes didn’t mean to embarrass the host. They just fell into the hyper of Beijing weather created by West media.

There is one more incorrect impression given out by West Media about the starting date of this Olympics. It has been long claimed by West media that due to Chinese traditional preference of number 8 the starting date for Beijing Olympics is set on 8/8/2008 and at the 8 PM and 8-th minute. This couldn’t be more farther from the truth!

Initially Beijing Olympics Organization had proposed to have 2008 Olympics starting in the month of September since it’s the traditional month when Beijing weather will turn cooler, not as hot and humid in August. But it was vetoed because it will conflict with American Professional Football season. Later BOCOG wants to have it started on August 15, not August 8. But it was vetoed again due its closeness to U.S. Open.

Now, due to the selfishness of some Western special business groups, every athlete has to deal with the unpleasant weather in August despite spending up to ten billions by Beijing to clean up the air.


August 6, 2008 8:27 PM

I have to say that, after countless baseless accusations of human rights, deliberate erronous Tibet reports, Dafur fabrication, and this and that, then now even air quality, I am very sickened to the bone about these former shameless colonial powers. They humiliated and plundered China, now they are trying at it again.


August 7, 2008 12:15 AM

why so many westerners preoccupied with the term "communist"? cannot they see the progress China has made with the leadership of CCP? every society has its dark side. do not be too mean.


August 7, 2008 1:40 AM

People should stay home if they believe air is so bad in Beijing. Why bother go there! Come to Texas and play with cows. Air is good here.

No Big Deal

August 7, 2008 2:37 AM

I don't think the Chinese will care if some losers want to give themselves an excuse for failing to win medals before competition begins. Chinese will focus on winning their medals. Americans will do anything for some publicity.


August 7, 2008 3:05 AM

redneck, you don't know that communists come to US and forced those guys to China?

In Beijing, only spring ( if there is no sand storm) and fall are good. Sepetember and Oct. are the best season. As peace4all1 said, China originally plan it in fall, but it was rejected. NBC bought the broadcasting rights and its business needs to be cared.


August 7, 2008 5:15 AM

well, some American athelets wear masks in Beijing, and then publicly make theirs apologies for their ridiculous actions to the Chinese.Is it holleywood movie only can made by U.S.,so funny?Now, superpower in the world,so their athelets can be figure so easily.Are they welcome? before answering it,tell me U.S. are welcome in the whole world?

Gary Miller

August 9, 2008 9:09 PM

It appears all the comments so far are from Chinese or Chinese loyalists. May I invite you to consider some history? Because the USA has freedom of expression, our people many years ago were able to express their desire to breathe clean air. The government responded.However, it can be very expensive to install pollution control equipment at factories and electrical generation plants. An economic price has been paid by Americans as it is now more expensive to produce many manufactured goods in the USA. Thus, many American jobs have been lost. Polluting industries in America have been replaced by polluters in other nations, such as China. These dirty industries pass along the cost of production to the entire population of the surrounding area, in the form of emphysema, cancer and heavens knows what other respiratory diseases. Chinese pride in their progress, well deserved, needs to be balanced with a frank admission that Chinese economic progress is being paid for in part by the health of it people. Is there a China someone who will admit this fact? Do you have nmedia who will report your concerns? Do you have any way of voting for representatives who will improve your environmental situation? Until you do, your pride cannot be complete.


August 12, 2008 12:29 PM

IAMSICKOFWEST can choke on the Beijing smog. I'm comfortable and happy in the cleaner air of Ohio. AND I'M NOT WATCHING THE OLYMPICS.


August 13, 2008 4:13 PM

I guess the face mask is not allow people to recognized when they lose their respective competition.
They are loser that already looking for an excuse for their defeat.
By the way, what it got to do with businessweek whether an athlete wear a face mask?!
I at lost at this point of this article on this magazine.


August 20, 2008 5:58 PM

Those guys who wore mask were American cyclist and all of them crash and could not even get a bronze medal at all!
I guess that they knew that they could not win not even a bronze medal so they started an excuse for the potential to failure! This was an embarrassing performance not only by losing miserably but the excuse for their failures!


September 6, 2008 11:57 PM

I told you so that those cyclists would use the face mask to excuse their defeat! They were losers the moment they step out with those mask! Utter lack of respect for the host countries and being a sore loser after losing due to poor performance
Here is link
Cyclists want apology from USOC over mask flap

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer Sep 5, 8:53 pm EDT

The four American cyclists who arrived for last month’s Beijing Games wearing black masks and were subsequently ordered to apologize for offending the host nation are seeking an apology from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

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