The Australian Track and Field team for the Olympics has been issued an order that prohibits them from marching in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The opening ceremony is undoubtedly one of the highlights and is part of the overall culmination of an athlete having achieved their ultimately goal of having been selected, not only to represent their country but also to represent their country at an Olympic Games.
The rationale for the ban is that Beijing is one of the world's most polluted cities and the athletes that march in the opening ceremony will be a risk for respiratory ailments that will adversely effect their performance in competition. This would seem to be a bureaucratic decision by over-zealous officials rather than a decision on the part of the athletes themselves.
However, the potential for some diplomatic fallout, particularly as no other countries have expressed any public concerns of dangers to their athletes from pollution, has seen some back-tracking and the current excuse seems to be that the athletes need a stable training environment. The question though is that the athletes have never needed a stable training environment previously that has resulted in the athletes being prevented from marching in the opening ceremony!
Yet, in fairness to the bureaucrats making the decisions, perhaps after having invested so much money into these athletes then it is only reasonable to protect your investment in order to maximize the returns. The picture is of Australian heptahlete Kylie Wheeler.
I am sure this will blow over.