IOC: Beijing Pollution No Danger
Associated Press Writer
Pollution in Beijing will not endanger the health of athletes in this summer's Olympic Games, although their performances might suffer, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said Saturday.
Pollution has been a major concern for China and the IOC ahead of the Aug. 8-24 Olympics. Some athletes are reportedly considering wearing masks to ward off the bad air in China's capital, while many will delay their arrival until the last possible moment.
"It might be that some will have to have a slightly reduced performance, but nothing will harm the health of the athletes. The IOC will take care of that," Rogue said at a forum in Singapore.
Rogge had previously said outdoor events could be delayed if the air quality was too poor.
He was asked to comment on the decision by Hail Gebrselassie, the world's greatest distance runner, not to run the men's marathon in Beijing because of worries over pollution.
He said Gebrselassie is "slightly asthmatic" but did not rule out the possibility that the runner could change his mind.
"He decided so far - I'm saying so far because we don't know how things will evolve - not to participate in the marathon," he said. "I would say, wait and see ... when he sees the data that we are providing for them."
Rogge and IOC executive board member Sergei Bubka traveled to Singapore to observe preparations for the first Youth Olympic Games to be held there in 2010.
Bubka, a former pole vaulter from Ukraine, on Saturday warned against any move toward by countries to boycott of the Olympics over China's crackdown in Tibet, where the largest anti-government protests in almost 20 years erupted last month.
While no country has announced a boycott, activist groups have stepped up calls for nations to stay out of the games or skip the opening ceremony.
Bubka spoke of his personal experience when the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics as payback for the United States boycott of the Moscow games in 1980. "It was my dream to win a medal (in 1984), and it was postponed," said Ukrainian Bubka, who went on to win his Olympic gold in 1988.
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