They have battled dense smog, strong tides and no wind but now British sailors training for the Beijing Games are contending with mutant seaweed that has invaded the Olympic venue in China.
The bright green algae, described as “thick as a carpet”, is making it impossible for dinghies to navigate the course that will host the Olympic regattas in less than two months.
Wrapping itself around keels, bringing the boats to a standstill, the seaweed is believed by experts to have drifted in from the Yellow Sea to the eastern coastal city on the back of bad weather during the past month.
Apparently China has deployed a rapid-reaction force of skilled engineers to deal with this problem.
Local fishermen are struggling to clear the area, armed only with their nets slung over the side of their small boats.
So what exactly is plan B, if this doesn’t work?
But of course this has nothing to do with China’s ever more serious pollution problem.
The theories about its cause include recent inland flooding caused by typhoons and global warming. Chinese officials deny that its presence in Qingdao — now living up to the Chinese translation of “green island” — is the result of pollution.
But, hey, I guess there’s no problem because China isn’t expecting to win any medals in this area anyway….
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.