‘Outside the Lines’ Spotlights Beijing’s Lousy Air Quality

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Sunday’s episode of ESPN’s Emmy Award-winning news program Outside the Lines will take a look at how air quality in Beijing may hinder athlete’s performance, their chances of breaking any records and possibly their health at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The report, which airs on ESPN Sunday, June 22 at 9:30 a.m. ET and again at noon ET on ESPNNEWS, will include a feature on U.S. triathlete Matt Reed and his struggles on the Beijing Olympic course last September in a race that nearly one-quarter of the 85 athletes competing failed to finish because of the poor air quality. Also some U.S. boxers claimed they became ill after just a short job around the city.

ESPN reporter Bob Holtzman reports from China that Beijing has some of the world's worst air pollution, and last year the government reported just 246 days with acceptable quality, an improvement from about 100 in 1998 although skeptics suggest the improvement may be a result of alterations made to the testing system.

Holtzman also reports that the USOC will issue a mask to all American athletes, urging them to wear it from the time they arrive in Beijing until their events.