Smog threatening Olympic events

OLYMPIC chief Jacques Rogge says air pollution could lead to some events at the 2008 Beijing Games being postponed.

Speaking a year to the day before the start of the 2008 Games, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said: “It is an option.

“Sports with short durations would not be a problem, but endurance sports like cycling are examples of competitions that might be postponed or delayed.”

Billions have been spent in an attempt to reduce pollution without success.

A host of factories have been shut down, while many others have been moved out of town, but non-stop construction and booming car sales have made air quality even worse.

Rogge’s comment reminds us that we have to work harder to fix environmental problems Wang Junyan, director of Beijing Olympics cycling events Beijing’s filthy air and clogged traffic are known to have worried Beijing organisers and the IOC for some time, but this is Rogge’s strongest statement on the subject.

BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar said: “All the talk has been about human rights but there has been a growing realisation that Beijing has a smog problem.

“People are beginning to come to terms with the fact it could be a major issue. Rogge said that some of the endurance events may be postponed and that would be disaster for the organisers.”

However, postponing events might not be an option because race schedules have already been decided, according to Wang Junyan, the director of cycling events for the games.

She added: “Rogge’s comment reminds us that we have to work harder to fix environmental problems.”

Rogge has expressed concerns about Beijing’s air pollution problem Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has already revealed that the country’s athletes won’t arrive in Beijing until just before the Games begin next August to avoid possible respiratory problems.

Otherwise, the IOC said the Chinese have laid “strong foundations” for the Games during Rogge’s visit to mark one year until the event kicks off.

Sixty three official events are taking place across China to mark the beginning of the countdown to 8 August 2008.

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