Opinion / From the Press

Do we have to run marathon in smog?

By Li Yang ( Updated: 2014-10-21 10:08

It was foolish to organize the marathon in Beijing’s heavy smog last week. Wearing all kinds of air-pollution prevention equipment, some participants turned the sports event into a comic show. The activity has drifted away from its intended direction, says an article in the Beijing News. Excerpts:

Pictures of marathon runners wearing air-pollution masks and respirators running in dense smog in Beijing made headlines last weekend. Organizing an outdoor event in such conditions seems to convey the message that either the polluted air is safe to be breath, or that the authorities do not care about people’s health. To some extent, running a marathon in smoggy air is against the spirit of the event.

Given that more than 30,000 people from around the world took part in the race and thousands more were involved as volunteers, security guards and medical staff, it is understandable that it is difficult to change the date.

The problem is that Beijing has more smog-filled days than clear blue sky, especially during the marathon season. Although the Beijing marathon, a 43km race, has been on for decades, the international sports administration needs to rethink Beijing’s feasibility as a host city.

If the air quality in Beijing cannot improve, the event can be held somewhere that has cleaner air. Or, the event organizers should consider changing the date from late autumn to spring or summer when Beijing has less smog.

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