IOC president warns Beijing Olympic events could be postponed

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The Olympic Stadium in Beijing - Jason Lee/ReutersAir pollution in Beijing could cause some Olympic events to be postponed if the matter is not resolved in a year’s time warned Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee.

Speaking yesterday at events marking the one year countdown till the Beijing Games kick off, Rogge specifically warned that high endurance events such as marathons and cycling, which take place over several hours could be at risk.

“It would not be necessary for all sports, sports with short durations would not be a problem,” Rogge told CNN yesterday in coverage that was blacked out on mainland. “But definitely the endurance sports like the cycling race, where you have to compete for six hours, these are examples of competitions that might be postponed or delayed to another day.”

Rogge’s comments have been echoed by other IOC officials in Beijing to assess the progress of the games’ infrastructure with just a year to go before they commence. “The air pollution is an acute problem” said British Olympic Association Chief Executive Simon Clegg.

The Games are now starting to attract growing concern over health issues and air quality, with a trial plan on banning 30 percent (about one million) of all vehicles from Beijing by suspending licenses in an attempt to clean up the atmosphere set to commence next week.

5 thoughts on “IOC president warns Beijing Olympic events could be postponed

    Dear Chris,

    To my latest information, the Beijing governement will not only ban one million cars but there are two further steps into discussion:
    – limit the numbers of vehicles (trucks and cars) from other provinces to enter the city. This will be a nightmare for the logistics for restaurant, shopping malls, supermarket, etc…
    -like in other cities around the world, one day for 单号cars, one day for 双号cars;
    -the third is to limit the numbers of cars with new license plate starting october 1st, 2007.

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Its an interesting contrast these days to fly into Delhi from Beijing. What had previously been a very polluted, dreadful air quality destination is now pleasant and green. Why ? Delhi’s transport is all gas. Taxis, buses, even the tuk-tuks – all green. No choking fumes, no exhaust emissions. China needs to do a lot more than just ban a million cars from the roads of Beijing. And with energy at a premium for China, why do they need the internal combustion engine anyway ? It’s 100 year old technology, still being forced upon us by the Oil companies and governments in their thrall. This is an excellent opportunity for China to start going green and use gas powered engines instead of benzene. It made sense for Delhi – and I am sure it would for Beijing.

    You want clean air ? Then stop pumping muck into it. Restricting vehicle licenses entering the city is not the answer, and to be frank it is poor forward environmental planning by the Chinese who have had years to prepare for cleaning up the city what could become known as “The Dirty Olympics” unless they seriously get their act together and start getting some muscle into the phrase “environmental protection”. Because at the moment it has been shown up to be pure lip service.

    Gee, didn’t the IOC think of this before granting Beijing the games?


    When the IOC granted the Olympics, the environmental situation was not as worse as it is now.

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    The problem is with the dates, and the IOC should have properly considered conditions in China during August. The Chinese wanted to open the games at 8pm on 8th August (8th month) on 2008. That is “auspicious” numbering – four eights being considered very lukcy in China. However, that is a full 5 weeks earlier than the Sydney Olmpics for example occured. Weather patterns in China during August in the three main cities events are being held:

    Beijing: August – Hottest and most polluted month in the year, little wind
    Qingdao (Yachting) August – Month with the least amount of wind
    Hong Kong (Equestrian) August – prime typhoon season, hottest month, 90% humidity

    It’s the worst month to be holding sporting events, and there is no real reason for it other than the stupidity of insisting on ‘lucky numbers’. Hong Kong has just had a number eight signal pass through this weekend for a typhoon, everyone has to go home, all shops, banks and facilities close. In one years time, we’d have been in the middle of the dressage events. Three people died in Hong Kong this weekend due to the typhoon – two by a tree falling on them and the third falling off a gantry from high winds.

    China will hold a good event in terms of spectacle and choreography, but the athletes will hate it. Holding the games in August was a very bad idea, both the Chinese and the IOC should have done their homework better. The games are about athletics and sports – those are the real stars, not what a great show China can put on. I don’t think this will go down as one of the great Olympics actually. The weather will prove too demanding, both for participants and for attendees.

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