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NZ Olympic team chief: Beijing smog 'no problem'
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New Zealand Olympic team chef de mission Dave Currie was playing down the impact of Beijing's pollution, less than three weeks away from the start of the Games.

Currie has been in the Chinese capital for a few days setting up New Zealand's Olympic base in the village. He said the air has been fresh and there does not seem to be a problem, New Zealand's Newstalk ZB radio reported.

Since arriving, he has enjoyed blue sky, fresh air and a sunset, he added.

Currie has also noticed the air of excitement that is building in the Chinese capital leading into the Games opening on August 8.

Meanwhile, Eion Edgar, president of the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC), also believed that the environment in Beijing will improve before the Games start.

"The Chinese have closed down their factories and taken millions of cars off the road to improve the situation, so I'm confident the environment will improve before the Games start," Edgar said in an interview with New Zealand' Otago Daily Post daily published on Wednesday.

Beijing will be the fifth summer Olympics since Munich 1972 for Edgar, who is also chairman of investment company Forsyth Barr and has distinguished himself in the fields of sport, finance, the arts and education.

Edgar, along with New Zealand Governor-General Anand Satyanand, will join the last New Zealand team to depart for China, on August 6.

"Predominantly, we'll be looking for success in the traditional areas of rowing, yachting, triathlon, cycling, men's and women's kayaking and equestrian," Edgar said.

New Zealand will send a record-size team to the Beijing Olympics, including 182 athletes.

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2008)

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