Beijing organizers provide air pollution findings to IOC

Updated: December 11, 2007, 3:09 PM ET
Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The IOC will study recent air quality tests to assess the risks posed by pollution for athletes at next year's Beijing Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee said the information will be used to make contingency plans for rescheduling events if the smog levels are too high.

"If at the end of the day, you know you have a risk and then apply your contingency and your numbers are not better, you may have to decide to work on the rescheduling of the competition if necessary," Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli said Tuesday.

China is trying improve the quality of Beijing's air, and IOC president Jacques Rogge has repeatedly said that events could be postponed if the levels are hazardous.

The issue was reviewed by the IOC executive board during a video conference with Beijing organizers, less than eight months before the Aug. 8-24 Olympics.

Felli said the Beijing committee turned over the findings from August when pollution-reduction measures were in place, including the removal of about 1.3 million of the city's 3 million cars from the road.

"We have just received the numbers," he said. "We have not analyzed them yet. We are trying to understand ... how this type of air quality could affect the athletes."

The readings should offer details of small particle and ozone levels and how pollution varies through the day. Micro-particles associated with air pollution can potentially trigger asthma attacks and cause heart problems among athletes in endurance events.

Felli said the contingency also covers reducing traffic, closing industrial plants and halting some construction work during the games.

Felli and Hein Verbruggen, who heads the IOC commission monitoring Beijing's preparations, will travel to the Chinese capital before the end of he year for further talks on pollution and other matters.

In other developments on the second day of a three-day meeting:

-- IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the board agreed on the framework for blogging by athletes during the Beijing Games but more time was needed to finalize the details. The rules are expected to limit blogging to first-person diaries, and prohibit blogging about other athletes or coaches.

-- The board reviewed preparations for the 2012 London Olympics, including the possibility of moving some venues. The canoe-kayak course could be switched because of contamination at the original site, and fencing may be relocated from a planned temporary venue to another facility.

-- The IOC approved the daily sports schedule for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, as well as the program of pre-Olympic test events, the sports pictograms and the emblem for the torch relay.

-- The board "took note" of former top U.S. Olympic Committee official John Krimsky's resignation from an IOC commission following his arrest on child pornography charges in Connecticut.

Krimsky, a former USOC marketing chief, pleaded not guilty in Danbury on Dec. 3 to four counts, including promoting a minor in an obscene performance, criminal attempt at possession of child pornography and third-degree possession of child pornography.

He resigned from the IOC's Olympic Philately, Numismatic and Memorabilia Commission. The panel, chaired by former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, deals with Olympic stamps, coins and pins and other collectors' items.

-- The IOC said the list of five finalists for the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010 could be cut before the February vote. The field includes Athens, Greece; Bangkok, Thailand; Moscow; Singapore; and Turin, Italy.

The Youth Olympics will feature about 3,500 athletes aged 14-18.

The bid process for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics will begin Jan. 21, with candidacies due by March 6 and the winning city picked in December.

-- The board put off until Wednesday a decision on whether to suspend France's top Olympic official from the IOC because of his role in a corruption case.

Henri Serandour, president of the French Olympic Committee, received a suspended three-month prison sentence from a Paris criminal court in October 2006. He was convicted on charges of giving two lucrative jobs to a communications company that had hired his wife.

Serandour's IOC term expires anyway at the end of this year because he has reached the automatic retirement age of 70.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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