Pressure on Chinese athletes could be unbearable

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BEIJING, Oct 17 (Reuters) Chinese athletes at next year's Beijing Olympics could be placed under unbearable pressure to succeed, Sports Minister Liu Peng said today.

''The attention and care from parents, brother, friends, leaders, media and sponsors is accumulating and creating an unbearable pressure,'' Liu said of the estimated 570 Chinese athletes who will attend the Games.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Communist Party Congress, Liu confirmed Chinese athletes who won medals would receive cash rewards as usual.

''For the previous Games, the Chinese government paid prize money to medallists...therefore for the 2008 Olympic Games, particularly seeing as they are being held in the motherland, the government will certainly reward them,'' he said, without giving details.

Liu also said he was worried that, despite the billions of dollars being spent in preparation for 2008, a lack of organisation could trouble some visitors.

''Although we have made a great effort and put in a lot of thought we have never organised an Olympic Games before,'' he said. ''If our friends are not satisfied about some small issues, that is what we are worried about.'' REUTERS BJR RAI2050

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