From: Reuters
Published April 5, 2008 01:24 AM

IOC head: Beijing air no danger to athletes

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The head of the International Olympic Committee said on Saturday that Beijing's poor air quality will not endanger the health of athletes competing in the games in August, but it may affect their performance.

"The health of the athletes is absolutely not in danger," Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee said in Singapore.

"There is no danger to their health, (although) it might be that some of them may have a slightly reduced performance," Rogge told students at a dialogue session.

Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world despite a 120 billion yuan ($17.11 billion) clean-up program over the last decade.

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Pollution remains a concern for many athletes coming to the Olympic games with marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie, an asthma sufferer, saying last month that he would not compete in the event in August because of the poor air quality.

Beijing plans to take about half of its 3.5 million cars off the roads and partially shut down industry in the capital and five surrounding provinces for two months for the Olympics and following Paralympics.

Rogge is visiting Singapore to sign the host city contract for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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