On a clear day, you can see the men’s decathlon

Jun 01, 2008 | 09:03 AM |

The Olympic torch is struggling its way toward Beijing, dogged everywhere by protestors unhappy at China's militant response to civil unrest in Tibet.

Back in Beijing, the government faces its own more practical struggle to prepare for the torch's arrival. The city—one of the world's most polluted—has begun what could be the biggest clean-up operation in history, post-war scenarios excluded.

When Beijing was awarded the Olympic Games back in 2001, it committed itself to providing a clean environment for athletes and visitors. But since then, Beijing has become ever more choked with the dirt, dust and smog that has always accompanied breakneck industrial growth.

For 19 days this year, from the initial events Aug. 6 to the closing ceremony Aug. 24, Beijing wants to provide its visitors with unusually fresh air. The number of vehicles on the road will be halved, the city's myriad construction sites will be idled, thousands of old buses will be pulled out of service and industries all around the capital and well beyond will face restrictions.....

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