A respirar con tranquilidad sobre Beijing

Imágenes del panorama urbano de la ciudad de Beijing aparentemente inmersa en un caldo de humo y niebla han conformado un espectáculo común en las pantallas de televisión del mundo en los últimos días y semanas. Periodistas extranjeros con detectores portátiles de contaminación ambiental han venido apareciendo en las esquinas verificando los niveles de hollín y polvo. Todos parecen ansiosos por demostrar que el aire de la ciudad será un factor decisivo y debilitante para uno de los eventos deportivos de más alto perfil del mundo.

Sin duda, Beijing enfrenta un desafío gigantesco. Existen preocupaciones reales y comprensibles por la salud de los competidores, especialmente aquellos que participan en pruebas de resistencia y largas distancias como el ciclismo y la maratón.

Pero el foco frenético actual se caracteriza por una considerable amnesia. Después de todo, la contaminación ambiental fue una preocupación importante en Los Angeles hace 24 años, aunque pocos ahora parecen recordar la dramática escena al final de la maratón de mujeres, cuando se la vio a la competidora suiza tambaleándose y tropezándose como consecuencia del agotamiento, el calor y, tal vez, los efectos de la contaminación ambiental. Y la calidad del aire también fue un problema en los subsiguientes Juegos Olímpicos de Barcelona, Atlanta, Seúl y Atenas.

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