Athletes competing at next year’s Winter Olympics could be doing so in potentially hazardous, polluted air, a new academic study says.
The report, to be published in the journal Sport and Society and shared with the BBC, looked at air quality data over the past five years for the month of February – when the games will be held – and found poor to hazardous conditions on as many as 15 days, with an average of 9.5 days.
“I am very concerned about the air quality in Beijing,” said the report’s co-author Dr Madeleine Orr, assistant professor at the State University of New York.
“The challenge for athletes with air quality is that they are at higher risk because they are outdoors and they’re exerting themselves. Tiny particles in the air that you can’t see lodge themselves in your airways and in your lungs and that can be damaging in the long term. It also can impede performance in the immediate. We’re talking carbon, methane, sulphur and so on,” she explained.