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Air Pollution Won’t Harm Games

Air pollution won’t harm Games, says Rogge

Associated Press in Lausanne – Updated on Jul 12, 2008

Air pollution won’t damage the Beijing Olympics, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge says.

“We are confident that atmospheric pollution will have no major impact on the Olympic Games,” Dr Rogge said on Thursday, less than a month before the Games begin.

In eight days’ time, Beijing is to implement new traffic regulations that are expected to take more than 1 million of the city’s 3.3 million cars off the streets and close factories and heavy industry in provinces surrounding the capital. The IOC medical commission has said athletes might have breathing problems in endurance events of more than one hour, such as the marathon.

If pollution levels exceed limits recommended by the World Health Organisation, those events could be rescheduled.

“I don’t think this is something that will happen very often,” Dr Rogge said.

He said the Olympics would also restore joy, hope and pride to a nation still coming to terms with the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province two months ago that left nearly 88,000 people dead or missing and 5 million homeless.

Dr Rogge also insisted that despite journalists’ fears of restrictions and censorship, the media would have freedom to move and work in Beijing.

“Never will the media have had so many possibilities as today,” he said. “Nothing is perfect and we are pushing very hard to get the maximum out of it [media conditions].

“Today I think any objective observer must say that this is something new and this is something that will have a lasting legacy in China.”

Dr Rogge said he hoped to see the cleanest, most drug-free Olympics in modern times because of a comprehensive anti-doping programme. A total of 4,500 doping controls will be carried out, including an improved test for human growth hormone.

The IOC has also promised to call in the nation’s police to investigate suspected drug-supply rings.

“I believe that today we are very, very close to the cheats,” Dr Rogge said. “I wouldn’t say level par, but very, very close to the cheats and far closer than we used to be a couple of years ago.

“The IOC will do everything that is humanly possible to have the cleanest possible Games.”

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