IOC sees green lights in Beijing, monitoring pollution

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Beijing, Oct 25: Chief Olympic inspector Hein Verbruggen foresees no ''risks or dangers'' in the preparations for next year's Beijing Games, although the problem of air pollution was being closely monitored.

Speaking at the end of the penultimate three-day visit of the IOC's inspection team on Thursday, Verbruggen said he was confident the Games would be of the highest standard even if there was still much detailed work to be done over the remaining 288 days.

''There is nothing, and I repeat nothing that is any risk or danger for the organisation of next year's Games,'' said the Dutchman, who is chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s coordination commission.

''We look towards a lot of green lights as far as the preparations of these Games for next year are concerned... our friends here (in Beijing) are doing a perfect job to make these Games a great Games.'' A report by the United Nations Environmental Programme released today said Beijing was on course to hold a Green Olympics but air quality remained a problem.

Verbruggen said it was a concern and the IOC and Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) were monitoring the situation ''from day to day''.

HEALTH ISSUE

''Let there be no misunderstanding,'' he said.

''This is a health issue, it would be almost insulting that we would not take this seriously, we remain confident that this will be addressed sufficiently.'' BOCOG executive vice president Jiang Xiaoyu said Beijing would continue its multibillion dollar project to clean up the city's smog but had also planned some contingency measures for Games' time.

These could include taking 1.3 million cars off the city's roads, as happened during a test project in August, and tackling big polluting factories in the suburbs, he said.

''If air quality fails to meet the standards, then we will take some measures to limit their production,'' he said.

''We have to analyse the test data then make proposals and submit it to relevant government departments.'' Asked whether there was any chance that endurance events might be moved from Beijing if the air quality was poor, Verbruggen was emphatic.

''There is not a remote chance of events not taking place here,'' he said.

Verbruggen said the IOC were also monitoring delays in the construction of the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) on the Olympic Green.

''The failure of one supplier delayed the construction of a wall which in turn put us behind schedule,'' Jiang said.

''But we believe the construction of the IBC will be completed by the end of the year.''

Reuters
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