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IOC: Beijing air quality not to harm athletes
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An analysis of Beijing's air quality indicates that the health of the vast majority of athletes competing in the summer Olympic Games will not be impaired, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Monday.

The photo taken on March 15 shows the construction site of the National Stadium, the main venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Over the past few weeks, the IOC has made an analysis of a set of air quality data - including temperature, wind, humidity and SO2, NO2, CO, Ozone and PM10 readings - which were taken by the Beijing Environment Protection Bureau in August 2007 and given to the IOC.

"The findings indicate that, at Games time one year out, the health of athletes was largely not impaired," said the Lausanne-based IOC in a statement.

The findings are also supported by the fact that no health issues related to air quality were reported to the Beijing Organizing Committee or the IOC by any team physicians looking after athletes who competed in the August 2007 test events, the statement said.

Besides, no air quality-related problems were reported at the IAAF Junior World Championships that were held in Beijing in August 2006, it added.

"As with all Olympic Games, we want to ensure that air quality risks are mitigated and that measures are put into place to protect the health of the athletes," said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC's Medical Commission.

"For a few sports where we do see a possible risk, we will monitor the situation daily during Games time, and take whatever decisions are needed at the time to ensure the athletes' health is protected," he said.

The official expressed confidence that measures already put in place, plus those planned by Beijing organizers and city authorities, will continue to improve the city's air quality leading up to - and during- the Games.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2008)

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