Shooting for Perfection: Beijing Strives for No Surprises

The Chinese government is striving for perfection at the Beijing Olympics.

ByABC News
February 18, 2009, 8:12 PM

BEIJING, July 30, 2008 -- China is keeping a wary eye on its smog, its weather and its critics as its make final preparations for an Olympic Games it hopes will be remembered for its athletes, not its aggravations.

Today in Beijing, thick smog returned to haunt the capital less than 24 hours after a burst of heavy showers washed away the pollution. Citizens standing on Tiananmen Square viewed a fuzzy Olympics countdown clock as they gazed through the haze late this afternoon.

Last-Minute Pollution Controls

Beijing is taking every precaution when it comes to ensuring clear skies for the Opening Ceremonies, scheduled to begin at 8:08 p.m. on Aug. 8. Satellite monitoring systems and cloud seeding are among the strategies planned to prevent rain from spoiling China's big moment on the world stage.

This is the 10th day of an odd-even license plate policy for drivers in Beijing. Chinese authorities claim that air quality has improved despite the thick blanket of smog.

International Olympic Committee executive director Gilbert Felli has been in Beijing for three weeks and was optimistic. He expects Beijing's air quality will continue to improve with the help of additional rain this week.

"Most of the people see the fog, they say it is pollution. But we know here it's not pollution. It's mist, a fact of the nature," Felli told Xinhua, China's official state media.

"It's always a [mix of] excitement and nervousness 10 days before the games … because you want to make sure that everybody is happy and you don't have flaws," Felli said.

Environmentalist groups are more cautious in their assessment.

"It is easy to pollute, but much harder to clean up the damage," said Greenpeace China's Campaign Director Lo Sze Ping in a press conference on Monday.