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    » 10/02/2007, 00.00

    CHINA

    A “disgusting” Beijing repels Olympic athletes



    High levels of air pollution and August heat convince two Olympic champions to stick to one competition. Athletes are trying to figure how to cope with the “air” that Beijiners breathe every day. President Hu visits facility for the disabled.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Beijing is such a “mixture of disgusting weather and air pollution” that two Olympic middle-distance champions from Athens 2004 have announced their intention to ditch certain competitions.

    Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, gold medallist in the men's 10,000 metres and silver medallist in the 5,000 metres in Athens in 2004, winner in the 10,000 metres in last month's world championships in Osaka, said he plans to compete in only one event at the Beijing games next summer.

    “"This time around, I will only race in one discipline,” said the 25-year-old world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres after competing in the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix meeting on Friday.

    Compatriot Meseret Defar, Athens women's 5,000 metres champion, said she considered a double entry in Beijing, 5,000 and 10,000 metre races, but decided in the end to “stick to the 5,000 metres,” adding that she “will also have to change [. . . her] exercise regime and routines radically to better prepare for the tough situation we can expect in Beijing.”

    The possible effects of Beijing's heavy air pollution, coupled with oppressive summer heat, have caused widespread concern in the international sports community. Endurance athletes stand to be among the most affected by the conditions.

    International Olympics Committee president Jacques Rogge has gone so far as to suggest rescheduling disciplines in this category in the event of the situation proving unbearable.

    Experts are divided over how best to prepare competitors for the conditions. Some call for a longer stay in Beijing ahead of the games to let athletes gradually settle in and become accustomed to the environment, while others favour a minimal-exposure approach, keeping athletes away from the hazards until immediately before competition.

    Both Defar and Bekele apparently are proponents of the latter approach.

    In the meantime Special Olympics for the Mentally Disabled opened today in Shanghai.

    In China there are about 13 million mentally disabled people, who do not easily fit in a highly competitive society. Many parents end up giving up their disabled children in quest for the one perfect child.

    Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday morning visited an educational facility for the mentally disabled where he said that society as a whole must pay more attention to the physical and mentally disabled.

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    See also

    15/10/2007 CHINA
    “Special” Olympics, disabled detained and thrown out of Shanghai
    A group of over 100 people, disabled and support teachers, linked to a private NGO has been sequestered by the police who refuse to allow them participate in the closing ceremony of the special Olympics. The members of the group are “traumatised” by the show of force: over one hundred state agents as well as police trucks.

    05/03/2008 CHINA
    Funds meant for NGOs helping disabled people stolen before Paralympics, Olympic leaders told
    In an open letter the founder of a Chinese NGO slams the state-controlled China Disabled Persons' Federation for misappropriating donations and property and for causing the closure of three centres and about ten family shelters for the disabled as well as the demise of a programme built up over 12 years that has allowed more than 150 disabled people to become socially integrated. She also slams the police for holding many disabled people during the Special Games.

    21/12/2007 CHINA
    Official gets death penalty for graft and embezzlement in pension fund scandal
    Wang Chengming, former chairman of a state-run company, might see his sentence commuted to life in prison. The case brought down Chen Liangyu, a top leader in the Shanghai clique. More than 20 people have been arrested for embezzling pension funds for private use.

    03/11/2010 CHINA
    Shanghai Expo closes amid lights and shadows
    A record-breaking number of visitors cross the turnstile. It is not yet clear whether the balance sheet is the black or not; however, the city has gained first-class infrastructures. After the original residents were thrown out, the expo lands are now up for sale.

    29/01/2008 CHINA
    Beijing admits worker’s deaths during building of Olympic Village
    For the first time since construction began over 5 years ago, Chinese authorities have admitted deadly accidents during building of Olympic projects. Steps to bury news reports that bring “bad press” to the Games continue.



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