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Traffic, Pollution Olympic Worry
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Two years to the day before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games begin, organizers are heralding a smooth construction program.


Still, that progress is beset by concerns about traffic and pollution.


Construction on all 12 new Olympic venues and renovation of nine sites is to be completed by the end of 2007, said Wang Wei, executive vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.


Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's Coordination Commission for Beijing, said China had shown "flawless planning until now."


Beijing, however, likely will face challenges in the next two years as organizers stage test events, he said.


"I am very confident in China's ability to pull off a great games," he said in a Webcast yesterday conducted for Olympic reporters.


Olympic planners are stepping up subway and airport construction ahead of the games and will encourage use of public transport instead of private cars during the Olympics, said Jiang Xiaoyu, another executive vice president of the Beijing organizing committee.


Traffic snarls


"We recognize people are worried about the traffic issues," Jiang said at a news conference. "Smooth and convenient transport services are part and parcel of the success of the Olympic Games."


Some temporary measures such as dedicated Olympic traffic lanes are being planned.


Other measures, such as a proposed city holiday during the August games designed to reduce traffic, are still under consideration, Jiang said. The city of more than 15 million is regularly is choked with traffic and haze.


Beijing has promised to clear the air by enforcing tougher emissions standards for cars, moving polluting industries out of the city and reducing reliance on coal in favor of natural gas.


Gunilla Lindberg, secretary- general of the Swedish Olympic Committee and the Association of National Olympic Committees, said yesterday that Beijing's air pollution was "still a problem" and that athletes were very concerned.


Wang, who appeared with Jiang, said Beijing planned to "abide by the best practices of previous games to provide convenient and comfortable services to the media."


(Shanghai Daily August 9, 2006)

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