has been blamed for the tragic disappearance of the whole Dutch Olympic team
consisting of 234 athletes and participating support staff. They were
last seen arriving at the Olympic village by coach but were soon
engulfed in the dense fog.
Beijing’s notorious pollution has
been blamed for the loss of the Olympic team by Dutch ministers
speaking in Rotterdam this morning before next month’s Games.
“This is a tragedy which was waiting to happen. We are doing everything in our power to recover our athletes before the games commence in eleven days time,” Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende has said.
Chinese officials brushed off concerns over the city’s stubborn smog,
which has triggered a warning by IOC chief Jacques Rogue that some
events could be postponed if athletes died or could not see anything.
In a separate incident, American 100m sprinter Carl Johnsons was severely injured yesterday when he veered off the track during a training session and was speared by a javelin. He is thought to be making good progress in a Beijing hospital and may be able to compete for the Olympics once doctors remove the javelin from his spleen.
looks like it’s a foggy day, but the air quality is actually good,” Sun
Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee, told
the BBC speaking through a respirator.
“We are committed to
locating the Dutch Olympic team and have despatched soldiers wearing
infrared goggles to try and find them somewhere in the Olympic village.”
officials routinely refer to the city’s smog as “fog”. The heavy
noxious particles that constitute the Beijing atmosphere are heavy in
lung damaging chemicals and metals like lead and phosphorous. Smoking
the Beijing air is equivalent to breathing in vast quantities of
cigarettes and cigars simultaneously every day.
induced smog has been a huge problem with visibility, and on a
good day if you can see for 5 feet it is deemed as a clear day.
Shaozhong, deputy head of the Beijing Environmental Protection
Department, told reporters on Friday that there was nothing to worry
about and the “fog” was just a temporary condition of low cloud “due to
the heat of summer”.
He said the city has regular “blue sky” days once every twenty years — the last one being on June 12th 1989.
low visibility hampering search and rescue efforts of the Dutch Olympic
team there have been calls from Dutch officials to boycott the Olympics
however this cannot be achieved until they find their lost athletes.
should never have sent them there, it’s like trying to find a needle in
a sea of fog. This is a race against time because they do not have any
food or water. We did not provide them with gas masks either and even
if we do rescue them their health will be severely damaged,” Karl Van
Groening, Minister for Health, told the Amsterdam Post on Friday.