Friday, August 8, 2008

Arrival in Beijing

We arrived in Beijing August 4. The first thing to strike us was the incredible media presence and the air quality. There is always a media crush with Michael Phelps with the team. The U.S.O.C. security staff helped us get through the media chaos in the airport.

The air quality has been a topic of concern for the past year leading up to the Games. When we landed at the Beijing airport the air was very hazy, as bad as any air pollution I have ever seen. We have activated carbon filtration masks for the athletes to iuse if needed. However, the swimmers have really not been affected by the air so far and have not used the masks. The National Acquatics Center is indoors, so there is less exposure to the outside air. We are carefully monitoring those athletes who have a history of respiratory problems such as asthma, as they are most likely to be affected by the air pollution. There has been a pall of hot, humid, and hazy air hanging over the city for the past 4 days.

Doping control is a big issue in the Olympic Games, as widely reported in the press. A number of our athletes have been tested (blood and urine tests) while we were in Singapore as well as after arriving here in Beijing. One of my jobs as team physician is to accompany the athletes through the process, to ensure that the protocols and rules are followed strictly. This is an area where we cannot be too careful.

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