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Aussie Athletes To Stay Away From Beijing Until Last Minute!

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AP article quoted in today's Yomiuri Shimbun:

Australian athletes will be told to stay away from Beijing Olympics until the last minute

By STEPHEN WADE

AP Sports Writer

BEIJING (AP) -- Australian athletes will be staying away from next year's Olympics until the last minute, hoping to avoid any filthy air and food problems in the Chinese capital.

Australian IOC member John Coates, after meeting Tuesday with heads of other Olympic delegations and Beijing organizers, called Beijing's choking pollution "a prevailing worry for most of us."

"We will be not recommending a long period in China before the games," Coates said, a day before the countdown clock on Wednesday reaches one year until the games open. "That only is going to increase the possibility of respiratory or gastric illness - particularly if you are not living in the village."

Coates, who is also president of the Australian Olympic Committee, said his athletes would be going to China four or five days before their first events.

"They (Chinese organizers) are very, very conscious of it," Coates said. "They knows it's a concern to the IOC. All we can do is trust that they will do everything possible."

He said Beijing officials told him that plans were underway to ban vehicles from Beijing's streets, perhaps as early as next week. This would coincide with several weeks of test events in Beijing.

"They said cars will be coming off the road for a trial period," Coates said.

Tuesday was another smog filled day in the Chinese capital, greeting IOC President Jacques Rogge and hundreds of Olympic officials on hand for Wednesday night's celebration in Tiananmen Square.

"It certainly doesn't look too good here in downtown Beijing," Coates said.

Coates said he was less concerned about food safety next year.

On Monday, Beijing officials said global positioning satellites and other high-tech devices would be used to ensure food safety at the Beijing Olympics.

"The IOC pays very special attention to the quality of food in the Olympic Villages," Coates said. "We don't expect that to be a problem, but we will still be advising our athletes to eat in the village, not in local food stores. Be careful with bottled water and take every precaution."

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Edited by Mainad

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dgstadiumsmog438.jpg

Beijing - As our plane begins its descent from bright blue sky thousands of feet in the air through the clouds into Beijing's Capital Airport, I’m excited at the prospect of my fourth visit to China and a chance to see what progress had been made since my last visit in February.

The aircraft makes that familiar bump as the wheels hit the runway – but to my disappointment, visibility on the ground is barely a few hundred metres; it is grey and dull. I get out of the airport into the polluted atmosphere that has unfortunately become all too familiar on previous visits.

The air quality is really poor and thoughts turn immediately to the athletes who may have to compete in these conditions. This will be a challenge for the Chinese authorities who have promised to improve the air quality in time for next summer.

In town for the one year to go celebrations, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Jacques Rogge warns on television that if necessary endurance events will be postponed at next summer's Games.

The visibility and atmosphere are no better as I wake up on Monday morning. I am in Beijing with a small team planning what will be our biggest ever Olympic operation. It will be a very busy two weeks. We pop into BBC News’ Beijing bureau to get their take on what has been happening since we last met.

Then on to a meeting with the British Olympic Association. Chief Executive Simon Clegg is out here along with his deputy Mark England and the Director of Elite Performance Sir Clive Woodward. They are in Beijing along with their counterparts from all the other National Olympic Committees for a conference organised to coincide with a year to go.

We greet them, nervous as the sky blackens - you can barely see the main "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium which is only a few hundred metres away.

Continues here...

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Tasty when you remember that the Aussie IOC members were full steam behind Beijing bid for 2008. ;)

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Yeah, I agree that this pollution problem is an issue that urgently need to be resolved, (and I am sure it will be) but can the Australian Olympic Committee quit being such a bunch of alarmist killjoys. Why are we always the first to talk about emergency contingencies to deal with things and it gets splashed on the newswires everywhere. Whatever the plan may be, just state that you are going to do the best for your athletes and leave it at that. The Australian IOC are such drama queens in the way they approach things...after all, more than 200 other nations have to compete under the same conditions... Don't be surprised if you see athletes leaving here with face masks.

To the AOC with intentional wish to sound jingoistic about it all, I say, "take a deep breath while you still can because she'll be right on the night mate" and stop bloody over-reacting to things all the time.

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China has a lot of work to do to sort out the pollution problems for next years olympics! Marathon runners could be in great danger running long distances in the pollution next year. I hope they sort it out especially as the worlds attention turns to beijing in 365 days for the opening ceremony

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China has a lot of work to do to sort out the pollution problems for next years olympics! Marathon runners could be in great danger running long distances in the pollution next year. I hope they sort it out especially as the worlds attention turns to beijing in 365 days for the opening ceremony

Funny you have posted that, micheal. In a coincidence, CBC had shown a documentary about how human activity is contributing to the global warming problem. Two case points with one source: Los Angeles and the Indian Ocean. According to it, nearly 50% of the smog that LA is experiencing "now" and the brown clouds over the Indian Ocean came from one area: China.

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