Aug 09 2008

Chinese crackers

Category: GeneralDave @ 22:37

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was certainly one hell of a spectacle and an impressive achievement. It has to be said that some of the Chinese girls in the set pieces looked as though they’d just walked out of a manga cartoon which, although enjoyable from some points of view, I’m sure did not convey the image the organisers intended.

However, given the pollution problems Beijing has and the huge efforts they’ve made to try and clean up the air for the games – and the possibility that if the weather doesn’t cooperate the pollution could get bad enough that athletes won’t compete, what surprised me were the fireworks!. The dress rehearsal on July 16th used 10,000 “shells” and apparently there was a huge pall of white smoke hanging over the Bird’s Nest (the Beijing Olympic stadium). On the night itself, 35,000 shells were used in Beijing alone. Fireworks were also set off in other places, such as along the Great Wall.

An official of the committee overseeing the ceremonies said:

To reflect the “Green Olympics” concept, some of the fireworks at the Opening Ceremony will use small smoke powder, or so-called ‘minimum smoke powder’. Some sophisticated launch tech will reduce the smoke and dust to minimize the impact or pollution to the environment.

For which I read “The dramatic effect we have been ordered to provide is more important than anything else but we’ll make a token effort.”

At a press conference on “Fireworks for Opening & Closing Ceremonies“, repeated questions about safety and security were met with a load of non-answers. This makes you wonder just what safety standards were in force (and obeyed) and how high safety and security were in the priority list. It would be understandable if the committee didn’t want to be too explicit about this for fear of the information being used by, shall we say, malcontents but if so, they really should have simply said so.

Well, I guess minimising the smoke is better than nothing but I still can’t help wondering if it wouldn’t have been far preferable to have no fireworks at all.

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