BEIJING, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Four U.S. Olympic cyclists who arrived in Beijing wearing smog masks say they're sorry for their actions.
In a written apology to the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, Mike Friedman, Bobby Lee, Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed tried to make amends for offending their Chinese hosts, The Times of London reported Wednesday.
"It probably wasn't the most opportune time for these athletes to wear these masks," Jim Scherr, the chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee, told the newspaper as a murky shroud of haze covered Beijing. "They have the right to wear masks if they feel it's in their best interest to do so. Hopefully they won't have to use them and the air quality will be good."
The city's air quality, or lack thereof, has emerged as a touchy public relations problem for the Chinese government, which had promised that such emergency measures as banning half of Beijing's car traffic on any given day during the Games would reduce smog before Friday's opening ceremony.