Now, however, the mask is sure to become the unintended Olympic icon - the athletes are bringing them:
"Concerned about the pollution, the U.S. Olympic Committee is distributing a high-tech mask, developed in secrecy, to its more than 600 Olympians." - Wall Street Journal
"Japan's Olympic delegation will carry 500 dust masks for industrial use to guard against the notorious air pollution in Beijing, a corporate official said Monday." - Boycott 2008, see alsop The Morning Call
Australian track-and-field athletes will "hold its pre-Olympic training camp in Hong Kong, and athletes will then fly to Beijing a few days before their events, the minimum exposure possible."
Naturally, the Communists will move heaven and earth to ensure none of these masks get inside Beijing's Olympic palaces. These are the same people who have taken it upon themselves to ban blacks from night clubs (Washington Post). Still, the symbolism is unavoidable.
Meanwhile, the cadres are dealing with accusations of cyberspying (CQ Politics, Newsmax, and Washington Times), run-of-the-mill spying (CQ Politics), cheating (Toronto Star), and luring dissidents into the open - and later prison (Epoch Times). Then there are the usual flare-ups over human rights (Boycott 2008 and Washington Post) and Darfur (World Net Daily).
None of that won't stop the propaganda machine already in full swing (Weekly Standard), neither will Beijing's increasing grip on Costa Rica (Epoch Times) or its colony's return to famine (BBC and Washington Post). Odds are the Communists' masks will have more staying power than anyone else's. What happens when the masks fall is another matter entirely.