Thu, Dec 13, 2007 - Page 20 News List

BEIJING 2008: IOC to analyze air pollution in Beijing and assess the risk

AP , LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will study recent air quality tests to assess the risks posed by pollution for athletes at next year's Beijing Olympics.

The IOC said the information will be used to make contingency plans for rescheduling events if the smog levels are too high.

"If at the end of the day, you know you have a risk and then apply your contingency and your numbers are not better, you may have to decide to work on the rescheduling of the competition if necessary," Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli said on Tuesday.

China is trying improve the quality of Beijing's air, and IOC president Jacques Rogge has repeatedly warned that events could be postponed if the levels are hazardous.

The issue was reviewed by the IOC executive board during a video conference with Beijing organizers, less than eight months before the Aug. 8 to Aug. 24 Olympics.

Felli said the Beijing committee turned over the findings from August when pollution-reduction measures were in place, including the removal of about 1.3 million of the city's 3 million cars from the road.

"We have just received the numbers," he said. "We have not analyzed them yet. We are trying to understand ... how this type of air quality could affect the athletes," he said.

The readings should offer details of small particle and ozone levels and how pollution varies through the day. Micro-particles associated with air pollution can potentially trigger asthma attacks and cause heart problems among athletes in endurance events.

Felli said the contingency also covers reducing traffic, closing industrial plants and halting some construction work during the games.

Felli and Hein Verbruggen, who heads the IOC commission monitoring Beijing's preparations, will travel to the Chinese capital before the end of he year for further talks on pollution and other matters.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the board agreed on the framework for blogging by athletes during the Beijing Games but more time was needed to finalize the details. The rules are expected to limit blogging to first-person diaries, and prohibit blogging about other athletes or coaches.

The IOC also reviewed preparations for the 2012 London Olympics, including the possibility of moving the canoe-kayak course because of contamination at the original site.

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