As the 2008 Olympics pass their halfway point, Beijing residents looking upward have begun to notice something new.
AFP PHOTO / Antony DICKSON / NEWSCOM
As the 2008 Olympics pass their halfway point, Beijing residents looking upward have begun to notice something new. The sky has changed from a dull beige to a bright blue. At night, countless luminous points flicker through the darkness above.
Thanks to a combination of favorable weather and a massive government effort to curb the city's industrial pollution, Beijing reported its eighth straight day of "excellent" air quality on Sunday, the best the city has seen in a decade.
Xinhua, China's official news agency, reports that the city's air pollution index – which measures atmospheric pollutants and their health effects – showed a reading of 43, up from 23 the previous day but still within the "excellent" range of 1 to 50.
The Irish Times notes that Beijing's residents are getting used to the cleaner air. "Weather forecasters here have spoken of the sky being clear and overcast, an apparent contradiction," writes Clifford Coonan, "but a statement that makes perfect sense in a city hardened by years of foul pollution."
The New York Times's Jim Yardley quotes Julie Ertel and Matt Reed, two American triathletes who attended the Aug. 8 opening ceremony, flew to a training camp in South Korea, and then returned over the weekend.