Have you been following the Beijing Olympics? I haven’t but this picture and article caught my eye.
It reminded me of my first winter in Beijing.
It was 2009 and the one regret I did not have in leaving Canada, was missing the Canadian winter.
“It never snows in Beijing,” they said. “It used to snow in Beijing, but that was twenty years ago.”
Well, in the year that we arrived, it snowed in Beijing. Three times in seven days in November, well before the first snowfall in Toronto.
Beijingers then, were not equipped to handle snow. Stick brooms and dustbins were used to remove three inches of the heavy white stuff.
I remember thinking that the sweepers moved in clouds of muffled desperation. Part of it was their bulky winter suits stuffed with padded jackets, sweaters and scarves. The other part was their resignation in doing endless tasks with impossible tools. Just like their routine of sweeping roads, one cigarette butt at a time, even as drivers tossed fresh litter out of their cars.
Based on the New York Times article, the sweepers are still tackling snow with impossible tools.
Beijing, a water-scarce city, went to great lengths to ensure that there would be enough snow to sustain its run as host of the Winter Olympics. That meant embarking on one of the most extensive snow-making operations in the history of the Games. The herculean effort included flooding a dried riverbed, diverting water from a key reservoir that supplies Beijing, and resettling hundreds of farmers and their families, who were living in what is now the competition area, in high-rise apartments.“Olympic venues get real snow, a rarity” – By Daniel Victor, Rebecca Thomas, John Branch and Keith Bradsher – New York Times, Feb. 12, 2022
For all of the herculean effort to divert water and resettle farmers and their families, you’d think they could have afforded snow shovels to clear the snow.
Of course, I’m ignoring the real issue, which is that the organizers did not anticipate getting real snow at the Beijing Olympics. All the snow required for winter sports was to be created by manmade machines.
Which begs the question …
Should a country which does not have real winters be hosting the winter Olympics? What does it say about climate and environmental priorities when a country redirects water supply to generate fake snow? In a city which is one of the most water scarce cities in the world? Where it is still not safe to drink the tap water?
Lest anyone think I’m only China bashing …
Shouldn’t the IOC have some criteria for selecting host countries which include environmental and human rights policies?
According to their website, “The IOC is at the very heart of world sport, supporting every Olympic Movement stakeholder, promoting Olympism worldwide, and overseeing the regular celebration of the Olympic Games.”
Too bad that there’s no mention of respecting the world in which humankind lives.