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Blue Skies Over Beijing: Olympics, Environments, and the People’s Republic of China

During the 2008 Olympic Games, after years of environmental regulations, two months of short-term measures, and opportune weather, Beijing measured a record number of “blue sky days,” at the same time reassuring international athletes and journalists the air was safe for competition and Beijing residents. We use this case to understand how environmental objectives are achieved in sport. Using Bruno Latour’s object-oriented political ecology, we describe the events leading to, during, and after the Games. We argue environmental objectives are possible when environments are made public; this means environmental objects—such as skies and particulate matter—must be assembled and then articulated or, in other words, brought forward and made capable of speech.