Nobody who's been to Beijing recently will be at all surprised:

The Beijing city government has announced a sweeping plan to stop construction and close heavy industry to improve air quality ahead of the Olympics.

The city's environmental protection body said Monday that the plans include stopping all digging and concrete pouring on construction sites from mid-July 20. Nineteen heavy-polluting industries have been told to cut their emissions by 30 percent.

One of the few upsides to authoritarianism, I suppose. So far Beijing has had mixed results in tests to determine whether this sort of ban on economic activity will improve air quality, so athletes are preparing for the worst. One would think, though, that if the air quality really is terrible, that should benefit Chinese athletes who are more accustomed to the conditions, in much the same way as Ecuadorian and Bolivian soccer teams do better in home games at altitude.

Photo: Getty Images 

--Josh Patashnik