Aussie athletes shun Olympic opening ceremony

Australia's track and field athletes will not take part in the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, partly because of pollution problems.

上海性息

“The advice from experts in this area is that Beijing is not the best place to do the final preparations for competition for a whole range of reasons,” Athletics Australia spokesman David Culbert told news agency AFP.

Athletes at training camps in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia would not fly to Beijing for the opening ceremony on August 8, he said.

Asked whether pollution in Beijing was the main reason for avoiding the opening ceremony, Culbert said: “That's one reason but it's only one reason.

Smog boycott

“It's a combination of factors, including the training facilities, whether the village is the best place to be or whether you're better off being outside the village.

“The heat, the humidity, the air quality, access to the training facilities, all of those things are a factor.”

Culbert, however, pointed out that the athletics competition does not begin until the second week of the games.

Concern over air pollution in Beijing is a sensitive issue for the Chinese organisers of the Games.

Beijing's air quality is routinely rated among the worst in the world by international agencies, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, with the rising number of cars, industrial pollution and dust storms among the culprits.

China says it has spent $16 billion over the past decade to improve the environment and air quality by shifting polluting factories out of the capital and raising car emissions standards, among other measures.

However, Beijing's poor environment remains a major concern for the International Olympic Committee and some athletes.

IOC chief Jacques Rogge last year said that endurance events could be postponed or cancelled to protect competitors' health during the August 8-24 Games.

Hoping to avoid that embarrassment, Beijing plans to ban around half the city's three-million-plus cars from the roads during the Games, while some factories will be closed down and construction work ordered to halt.

Aussie athletes shun Olympic opening ceremony

AFP

Australia's track and field athletes will not take part in the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, partly because of pollution problems.

“The advice from experts in this area is that Beijing is not the best place to do the final preparations for competition for a whole range of reasons,” Athletics Australia spokesman David Culbert told news agency AFP.

Athletes at training camps in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia would not fly to Beijing for the opening ceremony on August 8, he said.

Asked whether pollution in Beijing was the main reason for avoiding the opening ceremony, Culbert said: “That's one reason but it's only one reason.

Smog boycott

“It's a combination of factors, including the training facilities, whether the village is the best place to be or whether you're better off being outside the village.

“The heat, the humidity, the air quality, access to the training facilities, all of those things are a factor.”

Culbert, however, pointed out that the athletics competition does not begin until the second week of the games.

Concern over air pollution in Beijing is a sensitive issue for the Chinese organisers of the Games.

Beijing's air quality is routinely rated among the worst in the world by international agencies, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, with the rising number of cars, industrial pollution and dust storms among the culprits.

China says it has spent $16 billion over the past decade to improve the environment and air quality by shifting polluting factories out of the capital and raising car emissions standards, among other measures.

However, Beijing's poor environment remains a major concern for the International Olympic Committee and some athletes.

IOC chief Jacques Rogge last year said that endurance events could be postponed or cancelled to protect competitors' health during the August 8-24 Games.

Hoping to avoid that embarrassment, Beijing plans to ban around half the city's three-million-plus cars from the roads during the Games, while some factories will be closed down and construction work ordered to halt.