Masked cyclists apologize

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008
By Yokota Fritz

Never mind that even the natives wear face masks to protect themselves from air pollution. When American Olympic track cyclists arrived in Beijing wearing face masks, it caused an uproar.

The masks were developed by the US Olympic Committee and issued to athletes specifically to protect their lungs. US Olympic officials in Beijing, however, criticized the public wearing of these masks. The track cyclists -- Mike Friedman, Sarah Hammer, Bobby Lea and Jennie Reed -- were just caught saying "Huh? We're just here to race" and issued a public apology.

“This is really a surprise, because I didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal,” Friedman said. “Why we wore the masks is simple: pollution. When you train your whole life for something, dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s, why wouldn’t you be better safe than sorry?”

Olympic officials were unhappy with their carefulness and were worried that these masks might embarrass China.

“They told us that the Chinese were mad and that this is a politically charged issue, but we didn’t mean to offend anybody,” Friedman said. “When they handed us these masks, they never said, ‘Here they are, but don’t wear them.’ ”

Lea said, “It’s disappointing, because I was under the assumption that the mask was approved for use because it was issued by the U.S.O.C.”

See also Boulder Report: (Cough) Countdown to (cough) Olympics. Joe Lindsey obviously doesn't seem too concerned about offending the Chinese.

Props to Lego Andy.

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...personally, i thought the 'mask' action was great...

...but then again, i've been known to be "attitude-y" towards the chinese government, for a while now...

...may the people of china thrive & proper w/ enlightened minds & may the chinese leaders "wake the fuck up" & give them that opportunity...
Scroo China. If they are embarrassed about their horrid polution problem, GOOD.

Nobody goes through life with the right to not be offended.

Did those masks have a "swoosh" on them or anything? I wonder how long it will be until we see fashionable Los Angelenos wearing these.

China bashing gets us nowhere; positive encouragement and, hey, here's a thought, setting a positive example will do far more to improve global environment. The U.S. remains--as still-president Bush said leaving the G-8--the biggest polluter in the world.
So, having read Lindsey's post, The US Olympic Committee developed the masks, gave them to the athletes, recommended the athletes wear them and then when Beijing officials complained the chief communications officer of the USOC said "I suspect it was their choice, you would have to talk to them as to what prompted them to do this."

Nice. Keep it classy USOC.
In our coverage of the "mask incident" on bike hugger, a reader noticed that's Jennie Reed, our local Track Superstar
Absolutely pathetic response by those who chastised the athletes for taking care of themselves. The Chinese should be embarrassed - they are the ones who let their country get that way. Don't get offended if your air is a cesspool... clean it up!
Hey where I can purchase these masks for my family. We love to bike and UTAH has some bad quality air days! I think they look cool!
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