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Olympic arrivals

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James Reynolds | 11:57 UK time, Monday, 28 July 2008

The flags are up by the side of the road, the Olympic village is open, and the athletes have begun to get here. It feels like the Games have already begun.

This morning, I went along to Beijing's international airport to film the arrival of some of the British Olympic team.

Tom DaleyA camera crew from Chinese state TV waited with us at the arrivals gate. They were keen to speak to the 14-year-old British diver Tom Daley - a boy who's now famous even in China.

The athletes turned up and made their way through the special Olympic arrivals lane (the Chinese crew tried to interview Tom but were gently eased aside by the rest of the British team).

The athletes' first sight of Beijing was the new airport terminal - the largest in the world. It's designed to take their breath away. But this city's air probably did that instead.

Today's been another grim air day for Beijing - the fifth in a row by our count.

Beijing pollution graph

This run of polluted days must make this city's Olympic organisers pretty nervous. When Beijing bid for the Games, it made a clear promise - the air in this city would be clean. But the athletes are here, the emergency clean measures are in place, and the air is still bad. So, we're now being told that Beijing is now considering a further series of ultra-emergency clean air measures. If this new series of measures don't work, it's hard to think what else this city can do - apart from pray for wind or rain.

I've also spent much of my time today trying to figure out exactly how many special passes you need to get around the city. Officially accredited journalists are all given an official yellow-lined Olympic Games pass - which gets you past police checkpoints and into Olympic venues (this pass is so sacred and impossible to replace, that if you lose it, you might as well quietly emigrate, start a new life under a false name and hope that no-one ever tracks you down to tell you how stupid you were to lose your pass).

But this one official Olympic pass doesn't get you everywhere. You also need a special pass for your car, and you need a special sticker for your video camera as well. If you're going into the Olympic village, you'll need another, completely different pass as well - which you have to apply for well in advance.

All in all, it might be easier - and quicker - to brand your forehead with your name, date of birth, passport number and DNA sequence. Perhaps that'll happen in London 2012.


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