- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The International Olympic Committee said in late October that there is an increasing likelihood that some Olympic events could be postponed due to air pollution levels in Beijing.
The Olympics are scheduled to begin next summer. “The air quality is a big problem,” said Hein Verbruggen, IOC inspection team leader. Officials said there is a concern that current pollution levels would impact the athletes’ performance in the games. IOC president Jacques Rogge had previously warned that pollution levels could result in delaying some outdoor events.
SO2, NO2 and CO levels rose or failed to drop in 2006 following three years of decline, according to reports, which was based on Chinese government statistics. Particulate material is also of concern to the IOC. “Extensive use of coal, the city’s geographical location and a growing number of motor vehicles means the pace of improvement in Beijing’s air quality is slow,” said Eric Falt, who heads the U.N. Environment Program’s sports and environment project.
Beijing officials believe that planned measures will improve the air quality sufficiently to allow the games to continue as planned. Contingency measures such as banning of cars and temporary factory closures should allow the skies to clear.