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IOC Admits Beijing Pollution Could Affect Health, Performance
Published March 18, 2008
|IOC Acknowledges Beijing's Air Pollution May
Affect Health, Performance Of Olympic Athletes
CLEARING THE AIR? Ljungqvist said of the air-pollution study, "This to my knowledge is the first time in sports history we are conducting an analysis like the one we have been conducting. Air pollution has not been an issue until this time. But we have been in polluted places earlier without paying attention or making any analysis at all." Ljungqvist noted that World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines will be used to judge pollution, heat and humidity, and added that "any postponement would be explained openly." WHO has said that "some pollution levels in [Beijing] are five times over the group's safety level" (AP, 3/18). Univ. of Hong Kong department of community medicine Chair Anthony Hedley: "There's no magic wand you can wave and suddenly reliably change the quality of air in a region. But there is a very real risk that the health of some athletes will be impaired" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/18). Ljungqvist also said that asthmatic athletes are "likely to suffer more than most" (London TELEGRAPH, 3/18). British Olympic Association Chair Colin Moynihan said that British Olympians "would be free to train" with an anti-pollution mask though there is "'no intention' to allow them in competition." Moynihan: "We are increasingly confident that the improved air quality will mean masks are unnecessary, but it is up to the individual athletes and their sporting federations if they want to wear them in competition" (LONDON TIMES, 3/18).