Air quality in Beijing dangerous for Olympic athletes
by David Masters
March 24, 2008
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has finally admitted that Beijing’s poor air quality could prove detrimental to the health of the athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics this summer.
An analysis of the level of pollution in the city found that whilst most competing athletes will not be affected by the city’s poor air quality, those partaking in endurance events – which includes marathon running, long distance cycling, marathon swimming, road walking and the triathlon – could be at risk.
The IOC has now put together a back up plan in which events could be postponed if the air quality is deemed to be too poor at the time of the games.
Arne Lljungqvist, the chairman of the IOC’s medical comission, said: “As with all Olympic Games, we want to ensure that air quality risks are mitigated and that measures are put into place to protect the health of the athletes.
“The health and safety of the competing athletes is of the utmost importance. Analysis of air quality data to date indicates that the health of the vast majority of athletes competing in the 2008 Olympic Games will not be impaired.
“These findings are supported by this analysis, and by the fact that no health issues related to air quality were reported…by any team physicians looking after athletes who competed in the August 2007 test events.
“It may be that some events will not be conducted under optimal conditions – which is the reality of sports competitions – and that we may not see records broken in Beijing.
“However, the games are more about competing in the Olympic spirit, than about breaking records. For a few sports where we do see a possible risk, we will monitor the situation daily during games time, and take whatever decisions are needed at the time to ensure the athletes’ health is protected.
“The IOC is confident that measures already put in place, plus those planned by Beijing organisers and city authorities, will continue to improve the city’s air quality leading up to – and during – the Games.”
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